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US unable to account for Iraq funds

February 8, 2011
The US Defense Department cannot account for how it spent funds that belonged to the reconstruction of war-torn Iraq due to poor record keeping, a report says.

The Pentagon, entrusted with spending $9.1 billion on reconstruction projects in 2011, has failed to elucidate the whereabouts of this year’s money, a Press TV correspondent reported on Monday.

The US military agency has also refused to send any representatives to Iraq’s Supreme Audit Court to explain such an inappropriate use and undetected loss.

“The Pentagon must take immediate steps to address this issue. These funds are specifically to be used for the reconstruction of the country. And if such a huge amount is not accounted for, then it implies that some of it has been misused, whether for personal or military purposes,” Nariman Abdulla, a Kurdish lawmaker, said in Arbil.

The incident is the latest to fault American officials for mismanagement of Iraqi funds in the years following the US-led invasion of the country in March 2003. Last year, the US military mismanaged $8.7 billion in funds for Iraq, reports say.

The mismanagement of Iraqi funds has angered the country’s officials who have raised the possibility of taking legal action against Washington.

The Kurdistan opposition party, the Movement for Change, has stated that they intend to discuss the issue in the Kurdish regional parliament.

“This was shocking news as members of the Movement for Change will open a discussion about this in the parliament. We will inform the Iraqi people that some of the money which was supposed to be set aside has been mismanaged,” Peshawa Tofiq, a member of Movement for Change — also known as the Change List — told Press TV.

The White House authorities took control of $20 billion of Iraqi government funds when they invaded Iraq. They were supposed to use the money for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction.

Since then, however, several US military officials have been convicted of bribery, fraud and money-laundering over money allocated for reconstruction projects in Iraq.

According to the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, the majority of convictions to date belong to 2003-2004, when the oversight was lax and poor record keeping practices were followed.



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