Where Did $6.6 Billion in Cash for Iraq Go?
Stuart Bowen does not have an easy job. He is the man atop SIGIR, the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. The office is a creation of Congress, a replacement to the Coalition Provisional Authority and it has a task no smaller than to provide independent audits and investigations on all the fraud, waste and abuse that has happened through American involvement in Iraq. It reports to both the State and Defense departments while it audits their staff, subcontractors, methods and practices.
The United States has already spent more than $55 billion in reconstruction funds, but now there is greater concern that at least $6.6 billion of the initial money that went to help support the Iraqi government was stolen. There is no accounting for it. The SIGIR office has been publishing a steady stream of quarterly reports (29 so far), special audits and even infographics on the situation in Iraq. The office included an audit in July 2010 asking the Defense Department to improve financial and management controls and begin accounting for nearly $9.1 billion in funds spent. The audit will hopefully be completed this summer, he said.
We caught up with Bowen by phone Monday afternoon.
The Los Angeles Times’ Paul Richter had a decent primer on the situation as it stands, and The Guardian, among others, documented the planeloads of currency being ferried from the Federal Reserve to Iraq’s central bank at least as far back as 2007.