4/08/2005

Iraq is Becoming 'Free Fraud' Zone

From the Christian Science Monitor:
A former senior advisor to the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which ran Iraq until the election of an interim Iraq government last January, says that the US government's refusal to prosecute US firms accused of corruption in Iraq is turning the country into a "free fraud zone." Newsweek reported earlier this week that Frank Willis compared Iraq to the "wild west," and that with only $4.1 billion of the $18.7 billion that the US government set aside for the reconstruction of Iraq having been spent, the lack of action on the part of the government means "the corruption will only get worse." More than US money is at stake. The administration has harshly criticized the United Nations over hundreds of millions stolen from the Oil-for-Food Program under Saddam [Hussein]. But the successor to Oil-for-Food created under the occupation, called the Development Fund for Iraq, could involve billions of potentially misused dollars. In late March, the New Standard reported, the annual Global Corruption Report issued by the "corruption watchdog," Transparency International (TI), heavily criticized the US for "mismanaging" Iraq's oil revenues and "for using faulty procedures for awarding reconstruction contracts." The report also criticizes efforts to rapidly privatize Iraqi assets and industries as a means of reducing the country’s debt. TI warns that unless immediate corrective measures are taken, Iraq’s reconstruction could become 'the biggest corruption scandal in history.'...Meanwhile the Washington Post reported recently that both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations had long known that monies used in the in the UN oil-for-food program were lining the pockets of Saddam Hussein, and did little to stop it. CNN reported in February that "unclassified State Department documents sent to congressional committees with oversight of US foreign policy" show that the US actually condoned Jordan and Turkey breaking the UN sanctions against Iraq.

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