Christian aid identifies black hole in Iraqi funding
A staggering US billion in oil revenues and other Iraqi funds earmarked for the reconstruction of the country has disappeared into opaque bank accounts administered by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the US-controlled body that rules Iraq according to Christian Aid.
By the end of the year, if nothing changes in the way this cash is accounted for, that figure will double.
The financial black hole, uncovered by a Christian Aid investigation, is revealed as delegates gather for the UN-backed donorsí conference in Madrid.
Before pledging money from their own countriesí coffers to boost the reconstruction efforts, as requested by the US government, Christian Aid suggest that these delegates may first want to ask: ëWhat has happened to the missing billions?í and, even ëCould our money go the same way?í
The aid agency is urging that the British government, which has promised financial transparency in dealings with Iraqi oil funds, use its influence to ensure that the missing money is accounted for.
The agency says that the fact that no independent body knows where this cash has gone is in direct violation of the UN resolution that released much of it for the rebuilding of Iraqís shattered infrastructure.
The agency that is supposed to oversee these funds has not been set up.
Christian Aid is calling for the full and immediate disclosure of how this money has been spent, and for urgent moves to establish a proper means of regulation.
For the future, it says the British government should seek to ensure that a proportion of all Iraqi oil revenues are earmarked for the countryís development ñ as a binding condition on future oil exploitation.
"This is Iraqi money. The people of Iraq must know where it is going and it should be used for the benefit of all the countryís people ñ particularly the poorest," said Roger Riddell, Christian Aidís international director.
"We have absolutely no idea how the money [from Iraqi oil revenues] has been spent," one senior European diplomat to the UN told Christian Aid. "I wish I knew, but we just donít know. We have absolutely no idea."
"The situation is little short of scandalous," said Roger Riddell. "The British government must use its position of second in command of the CPA to demand full disclosure of this money and its proper allocation in the future."