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$17b in Iraq rebuilding money missing

Associated Press / June 23, 2011

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BAGHDAD — Iraqis are demanding to know what happened to $17 billion in Iraqi money that was part of a US-administered fund for rebuilding the country after years of war and sanctions that cannot be accounted for properly.

But US officials trying to trace the funds say the Iraqi government is not cooperating and has so far not allowed them access to bank records they need to determine whether any of the money was misused.

The use of reconstruction money has been a sore point for Iraqis, who despite the billions spent here still suffer from electricity outages, hospitals without the proper equipment, and a lack of schools.

The United States was responsible for administering the Development Fund for Iraq, set up after the 2003 invasion with money from Iraqi oil sales, frozen Saddam Hussein-era assets, and money left from the UN oil-for-food program.

The money from the development fund was generally disbursed through Iraqi government agencies, raising questions about their own role in supervising the money trail.

The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the watchdog for reconstruction funds, has issued two reports about the use of money from the development fund showing that as much as $17 billion cannot be accounted for properly.

The Iraqi parliament’s integrity committee is investigating how the money was spent.

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