Iraq hunting $17bn of missing oil cash

Iraq has lobbied UN for help in tracking down missing billions it says was stolen after the US invasion

Iraq says billions in oil money has gone missing since the US-led invasion

Iraq says billions in oil money has gone missing since the US-led invasion

Iraq's parliament is chasing about $17bn of Iraqi oil money it says was stolen after the 2003 US-led invasion and has asked the United Nations for help to track it down.

The missing money was shipped to Iraq from the United States to help with reconstruction after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

In a letter to the UN office in Baghdad last month, parliament's Integrity Committee asked for help to find and recover the oil money taken from the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI) in 2004 and lost in the chaos that followed the invasion.

"All indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq, (and) that it was about $17bn," said the letter sent to the UN with a 50-page report.

The committee called the disappearance of the money a "financial crime" but said UN Security Council resolutions prevent Iraq from making a claim against the United States.

"Our committee decided to send this issue to you ... to look into it and restore the stolen money," said the letter.

UN officials were not immediately available for comment.

The DFI was established in 2003 at the request of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the US body headed by Paul Bremer that governed Iraq after the invasion. The fund was to be used to pay the salaries and pensions of Iraqi government workers and for reconstruction projects.

In 2004, the administration of former US President George W. Bush flew billions of dollars in cash into Iraq. The money came from the sale of Iraqi oil, surplus funds from the UN oil-for-food program and seized Iraqi assets.

Last July, an audit report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said the US Department of Defense was unable to account properly for $8.7bn of Iraqi oil and gas money after the 2003 invasion.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Al Jazeera television on Sunday: "No one on the Iraqi side was controlling the work of Paul Bremer at that time. So I think the administration of the United States needs to give the answers for where and how this [money] was being used.

"We do understand that Iraqis are also engaged in such lack of transparency and corruption related to the Paul Bremer time in Iraq," he added.

Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraq's parliament speaker, said a committee was investigating what happened to some $20bn of DFI money.

"Some of these funds were spent and are documented. But some do not have such documents," he said. "We as a parliament are working together with the Iraqi Board of Supreme Audits and with coordination of SIGIR to know where this money ended up."

The appeal to the United Nations could help Iraq recover its money by putting its case before the international community, said Bahaa al-Araji, the head of the Integrity Committee.

"We cannot sue the Americans. Laws do not allow us to do that. All we want is to get this issue to the UN," Araji said. "If this works, it will open the way for Iraq to restore its stolen money."

In 2003, the CPA issued an order granting immunity to US personnel and institutions working in Iraq.

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on arabianbusiness.com may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: xicofaria

It went to Iran, and that's why no one can disclose it in public

Posted by: Iraqi expat

That's an easy one! they don't have to look further afield than their own pockets! it's all stashed in there nice & cozy! indeed, what can you expect from the most corrupted government in the world? on top of that, they have an American mandate to protect them!

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Is Africa's investment dream still on track?

Is Africa's investment dream still on track?

It was the new bright spot for global investors, but widespread...

Deal-making to drive 2017 Middle Eastern banking fee bonanza

Deal-making to drive 2017 Middle Eastern banking fee bonanza

Fees from the Middle East reached $581m during the first nine...

Accounting meets religion in challenge for Islamic banks

Accounting meets religion in challenge for Islamic banks

Reconciling accounting standards and religious principles is...

Most Discussed
  • 17
    Countdown to VAT: are Gulf businesses ready?

    I feel with VAT in place from 2018, retailers, SMEs will figure out ways of Tax-evasion as it happens in most of the developing economies unless authorities... more

    Tuesday, 14 February 2017 1:10 PM - Diya Pardasani
  • 15
    Dubai likely to lose 'shopper's paradise' status: S&P

    It's no longer a shoppers paradise. Maybe for the ignorant few but with the availability of the internet to compare prices worldwide one doesn't need to... more

    Monday, 20 February 2017 1:25 PM - Syed
  • 10
    Dubai real estate: which way will it go?

    well the mortgage rates are going to go up even more as the US will increase rates so the central bank here will also have to increase proportionately... more

    Wednesday, 15 February 2017 1:28 PM - Bill
sponsoredTracking