US 'fails to account' for Iraq reconstruction billions





A US federal watchdog has criticised the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq.

The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money.

Out of just over $9bn (£5.8bn), $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says.

The US military said the funds were not necessarily missing, but that spending records might have been archived.

In a response attached to the report, it said attempting to account for the money might require "significant archival retrieval efforts".

Reconstruction money
The funds are separate from the $53bn allocated by the US Congress for rebuilding Iraq.

Much of the money came from the sale of Iraqi oil and gas, and some frozen Saddam Hussein-era assets were also sold off.

The money was in a special fund administered by the US Department of Defense, the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), and was earmarked for reconstruction projects.

But the report says that a lack of proper accounting and poor oversight makes it impossible to say exactly what happened to most of it.

According to the report, the Pentagon is unable to fully account for $8.7bn of funds it withdrew between 2004 and 2007, and of that amount it "could not provide documentation to substantiate how it spent $2.6bn".

Past mismanagement
The audit blamed the inability to account for the money on a number of factors....


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