IRAQ: BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions

Publisher Name: 
BBC News

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have
been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq.

For the first time, the extent to which some private contractors have
profited from the conflict and rebuilding has been researched by the
BBC's Panorama using US and Iraqi government sources.

A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations.

The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.

War profiteering

While George Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted.

To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq.

The president's Democrat opponents are keeping up the pressure over war profiteering in Iraq.

Henry Waxman who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform said: "The money that's gone into waste, fraud and abuse under
these contracts is just so outrageous, its egregious.

"It may well turn out to be the largest war profiteering in history."

In the run-up to the invasion one of the most senior officials in
charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract
potentially worth seven billion that was given to Halliburton, a Texan
company, which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became
vice-president.

Unusually only Halliburton got to bid - and won.

Missing billions

The search for the missing billions also led the programme to a house
in Acton in West London where Hazem Shalaan lived until he was
appointed to the new Iraqi government as minister of defence in 2004.

He and his associates siphoned an estimated $1.2 billion out of the ministry.

They bought old military equipment from Poland but claimed for top class weapons.

Meanwhile they diverted money into their own accounts.

Judge Radhi al-Radhi of Iraq's Commission for Public Integrity investigated.

He said: "I believe these people are criminals.

"They failed to rebuild the Ministry of Defence , and as a result the
violence and the bloodshed went on and on - the murder of Iraqis and
foreigners continues and they bear responsibility."

Mr Shalaan was sentenced to two jail terms but he fled the country.

He said he was innocent and that it was all a plot against him by pro-Iranian MPs in the government.

There is an Interpol arrest out for him but he is on the run - using a private jet to move around the globe.

He stills owns commercial properties in the Marble Arch area of London.

AMP Section Name:War & Disaster Profiteering
  • 15 Halliburton
  • 176 War Profiteers Site
  • 185 Corruption