A recent US government investigation has found that American army cannot present authentic documents for billions of dollars of Iraqi money it claims it has spent during occupation of the oil-rich Arab state.
The total amount of funds unaccounted for has now reached about $7 billion, and American officials are worried that the Iraqi government would demand all or a portion of the money back, Foreign Policy magazine reported on Friday.
According to the report, which was released by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) cannot produce about $1 billion of receipts for fuel and other supplies it bought in Iraq through the UN-created Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) since 2003.
The DFI funds were the result of Iraqi oil and gas sales or was left over from the “oil-for-food” program.
SIGIR discovered that the receiving report, which documents that the goods or services were actually delivered to the intended recipients, was missing for 95 percent of the Corps transactions.
“Missing receiving reports involved commodities vulnerable to fraud and theft, such as fuel, televisions, and vehicles. SIGIR has not concluded that fraud or theft occurred, but the absence of receiving reports raises questions,” the report stated.
It added, “Instead of using the required receiving reports to document fuel deliveries in Iraq, USACE officials told us that they maintained a fuel delivery log book. However, the log book is missing. In the absence of receiving reports and the fuel delivery log book, USACE has no evidence that shows whether fuel products paid for with DFI funds were received.”
SIGIR also pointed that USACE did not have enough trucks equipped with meters to establish how much fuel was being transported to more than 100 sites across Iraq.
The agency further highlighted that it is impossible to determine the status of all the DFI contracts as the Corps failed to complete necessary financial audits.
“Without these audits, USACE cannot close out these contracts and task orders and assess whether the contractor owes the US money, whether the US owes the contractor money, and ultimately, whether the US needs to return unused DFI funds to the [government of Iraq],” the report said.
SIGIR is due to release a final report on the US government’s handling of billions of dollars of Iraqi money in January.