Billions of dollars ‘missing’ in Iraq
WASHINGTON: About $8.8 billion disbursed for Iraq’s reconstruction is unaccounted for, the CBS News on Friday quoted the US official in charge of tracing the funds as saying.
Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, says $8.8 billion is unaccounted for because oversight on the part of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the entity governing Iraq after the war, “was relatively nonexistent,” the CBS report said. The ex-number two official at the coalition’s transportation ministry, Frank Willis, agreed, according to the report.
“I would describe (the accounting system) as nonexistent,” he was quoted as saying. With no financial infrastructure, checks and money transfers were not possible, so the coalition kept billions in cash to pay for its multitude of projects. “Fresh, new, crisp, unspent, just-printed 100-dollar bills. It was the Wild West,” Willis was quoted by the CBS as saying.
In fresh violence in Iraq, drive-by gunmen killed two Iraqi policemen as well as a spokesman for the Iraqi army in three separate shootings across the country, while Shia leaders met on Saturday in Baghdad to discuss who should be Iraq’s next prime minister.
Gunmen in a red sedan shot dead a policeman in central Fallujah, 65 kilometres west of Baghdad, at about 9am on Saturday as he was heading to work, said Lt Sami Mohammed.
A spokesman for the Iraqi army was shot dead in British-controlled Basra, a southern city that had been also been noted for its relative stability, but has seen renewed violence, in part fueled by rival Shia militias and local opposition to the coalition troop presence. Army spokesman Capt. Makram Al-Abbasi was killed in a hail of gunfire from a civilian car also accompanied by a police vehicle early Saturday in central Basra’s Jubaila area, said police Capt Firas Al-Tamimi.
In Baghdad, unidentified gunmen killed police Sgt Bassem Al-Rikabi while he patrolled in the southeastern Jisr Diyala area at about 11.30 pm, police said.
Meanwhile, kidnappers of American journalist Jill Carroll have given until February 26 until their demands are met or they will kill their 28-year-old captive, according to a TV channel. agencies