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Iraq to chase missing billions
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20 Jun 2011
Iraq's parliament has asked the United Nations for help to track down about $18bn of Iraqi oil money it says was stolen after the 2003 US-led invasion
In a letter to the UN office in Baghdad last month, parliament's Integrity Committee asked for help to find and
recover the oil money taken from the Development Fund of Iraq (DFI) in 2004 and lost in the chaos that followed the invasion
In 2004, the Bush administration flew billions of dollars in cash into Iraq. The money came from the sale of Iraqi oil, surplus funds from the UN oil-for-food programme and seized Iraqi assets.
The DFI was established in 2003 at the request of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the US body headed by Paul Bremer that governed Iraq after the invasion.
The fund was to be used to pay the salaries and pensions of Iraqi government workers and for reconstruction projects.
"All indications are that the institutions of the United States of America committed financial corruption by stealing the money of the Iraqi people, which was allocated to develop Iraq," said the letter sent to the UN with a 50-page report.
The committee called the disappearance of the money a "financial crime" but said UN Security Council resolutions prevent Iraq from making a claim against the US.
Far higher figure
Osama al-Nujaifi, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has told Al Jazeera that the amount of Iraqi money unaccounted for by the US is $18.7bn - three times more than the reported $6.6bn.
US diplomat defends Iraq's case
Al-Nujaifi is scheduled to visit the US soon and discuss the missing Iraqi billions.
He said that he received a report this week based on information from US and Iraqi auditors that the amount of money withdrawn from a fund from Iraqi oil proceeds, but unaccounted for, is much more than the $6.6bn reported missing last week.
"There is a lot of money missing during the first American administration of Iraqi money in the first year of occupation.
"Iraq's development fund has lost around $18bn of Iraqi money in these operations - their location is unknown. Also missing are the documents of expenditure
I think it will be discussed soon. There should be an answer to where has Iraqi money gone."
The appeal to the United Nations could help Iraq recover its money by putting its case before the international community, Bahaa al-Araji, the head of the parliamentary Integrity Committee, said.
"We cannot sue the Americans. Laws do not allow us to do that. All we want is to get this issue to the UN," he said. "If this works, it will ope