The Washington Post today (link below) has a very interesting report on fraud, corruption and waste surrounding the U.S. Iraq reconstruction program.
Salam Adhoob, the former chief investigator of the Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity (the equivalent to the U.S. FBI) estimated in a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee yesterday, that out of the about USD 50 Billion U.S. taxpayer money that has so far been disbursed to the Iraq reconstruction program, at least USD 13 Billion have been wasted or stolen through various fraud schemes.
The former chief investigator and head of a 200 strong auditors team was one of three Iraqis testifying before the committee yesterday – all providing evidence of widespread corruption and waste up to the point, as one of them said, that Iraqi government officials are financing al-Qaeda terrorists through some of these schemes.
An additional USD 9 Billion were estimated (with some overlap) by another Iraqi agency bringing the total estimate of corruption, fraud and waste of U.S. taxpayer money within the reconstruction program to about USD 20 Billion or 40%. We estimate – based on normally reliable corruption indexes – that real-world figures would be more likely in the range of 60% or USD 30 Billion. At the same time Iraq’s own programs have recently reported a surplus of more than USD 70 Billion.
The levels of “criminal energy” surrounding this program can be seen by looking into the personal situation of those trying to create accountability or fighting the fraud. All of the three Iraqis testifying yesterday fear for their life or have already received death threats, and of Adhoob’s former team 32 investigators have been murdered.
The approaches and schemes are similar to those seen in widespread corruption surrounding other government driven funding programs in development aid, health or reconstruction around the world. Italian investigators have also mentioned such schemes as being used within the defrauding of European Union taxpayer funds by organized crime in Italy. Some of those methods are:
- suppression of critical / disclosing reports by high level officials
- unneeded or unused projects charged at highest rate
- false allegations, smear campaigns and discrediting of critics, investigators or whistleblowers
- death threats and the assassination of critics, investigators or whistleblowers
- middleman / sub-contracting / consultancy fraud
- collaboration, accessory or participation of government officials within the fraud
- “ghost projects” only existing on paper and auditing hindered, delayed or oppressed
- false / unusable / low quality goods & services charged for at highest market price (or above) of the right goods & services
While some of those methods could and certainly will be explained with mismanagement, in general all of them have direct links to corruption and illegal abuse of funds. The intention of those participating in and collecting the funds together with the overall criminal intent / energy seen further demonstrate these facts.
As with most of these programs, true accountability, transparency and auditable documentation together with systematic management allow to get a grip on these criminal activities. But today – even in cases where fraud and abuse is so obvious – those put in charge see no reason to change their approaches or are willing to follow up and prosecute those criminals.
With reports on taxpayer money abuse and waste heaping up to never seen dimensions – estimates for the U.S. are around USD 1 Trillion and for the UK about GBP 100 Billion per year – one has to ask when finally someone will put an end to this. At the same time the infrastructure – our streets, schools, health systems, networks and electricity grids are slowly assimilating those in developing countries due to decades of neglected investments into the building blocks of our societies and countries.
The article at the Washington Post
On development / reconstruction in Iraq from another source: “…anybody with skills, knowledge of the situation or experience of the region was suddenly seen as a liability…“
- Corruption in Humanitarian AID and Health Care
- USA: The never ending story of money motivated war crimes in Iraq continues
- UK High Court rules to continue government corruption investigations
- USD 20,000 Flash game development contest
Below you find links and summaries of some resources on the web that might be helpful as a starting point to understand the topic and issues of corruption with AIDS and health work in general…
What BBC’s popular political TV magazine Panorama yesterday night called the greatest heist in history or Daylight Robbery seems now to be going into another round of new discoveries.
In the more than one hour long broadcast Panorama’s Jane Corbin tells us some of the stories of those who became rich from the war and those who stood up against the crimes and “got burned”.
…If you believe that such corruption happens by pushing around brown envelopes with money under the table, sorry, but that might just be a very small part of it. We have compiled a short list of the most common activities identified within Iraq below. Some of them have also been mentioned in the report of Panorama yesterday night…
It’s a stunning victory for the activist groups and in their today’s ruling the two UK High Court judges, with unusually harsh wording that in parts can only be described as scathing criticism of the Blair administration, have declared the stop of investigations by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into corruption within a GBP 43 Billion (USD 88 Billion) arms deal between UK’s BAE and Saudi Arabia as unlawful.
The decisions of the SFO and the UK Attorney General to drop the case were due to massive political pressure from PM Blair and his administration. The decision to drop the case two years ago also prompted the OECD to start an investigation into international corruption.
I guess (sadly) that no-one these days will be surprised anymore that the argument used by PM Blair to defend the interferences with the law was of course the
general excuse / Catch-22 ““.
Nevertheless the judges today have stood up for the right of prosecutors to be independent and not subjected to political pressure.
You can read a…
The popular gamer web site AddictingGames has opened a flash game development contest with over USD 20,000 in prize money, plus promotion of the winners on the AddictingGames site. All games submissions must be new games and you must own the rights. They have to be authored in Flash and must be under 3 megs [...]