Here’s a bit of good war coverage from the Guardian:
[quote]British firms face fraud allegations over ‘phantom’ armoured vehicles
Questions over deal in which company was paid nearly £3m for order that was never delivered
Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain, Tuesday March 20, 2007, The Guardian
Three British companies are facing accusations that they engaged in large-scale fraud in Iraq after it emerged they were paid for “phantom” armoured vehicles destined to protect Iraqi government employees. The vehicles were never delivered, but the companies were paid anyway.
One company, headed by a former deputy assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard and a colourful ex-army officer, received $5.7m (£2.93m), even though the vehicles never left the factory in Russia where they were due to be manufactured.
Government investigators in the United States have condemned a “virtual pandemic” of corruption in Iraq which saw $9bn of the country’s oil revenues disappear without trace after Saddam Hussein was toppled four years ago. However, this is the first time that British companies have been accused of involvement in the widespread fraud which flourished in the chaos following the 2003 invasion.
…[SEE ORIGINAL FOR MISSING TEXT HERE]
…Mr Tarrant says amid the confusion and chaos in Iraq as the CPA handed over to the elected government there was little or no official oversight of contracts or payments. [color=green]“From what I know, the office in Baghdad that was signing all these letters of credit had only three employees - the president, his driver and a tea boy. He was there all day simply signing letters of credit. There was not a single officer there who understood anything more than a goat herder. All the competent staff had been sacked under the anti-Ba’athist regulations.”[/color]
The whereabouts of the millions of dollars paid to APTx remains a mystery. Mr Back agreed to meet a Guardian reporter, but then cancelled the meeting by text message and boarded a flight to Moscow. He has since been unavailable.
Mr James said: “There was nothing untoward about the contract at all. We received payment for work that was done.” He referred all queries to Simon Ratcliffe, a lawyer representing the company. Mr Ratcliffe declined to comment on the fraud allegations, and then hung up.
Missing Tonnes of cash just disappeared
Fraud, corruption and smuggling have reached such enormous proportions in Iraq since the invasion that some US officials call it a “second insurgency”.
[color=blue]Almost $9bn in Iraqi oil revenues cannot be accounted for, according to Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction.[/color]
The revenues were converted US dollar bills flown into Iraq in shrink-wrapped bundles, then distributed with few controls. Billions from seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the UN food for oil programme were sent in the same way.
In 2004, 281m notes, weighing 363 tonnes, were sent to Baghdad destined for Iraqi ministries and US contractors
Henry Waxman, head of a congressional committee, said last month: “Who in their right mind would send 363 tonnes of cash into a war zone?”
A memorandum prepared for the committee on oversight and government reform said one contractor received $2m in a duffel bag stuffed with shrink-wrapped bundles.
The memo concludes: “Many of the funds appear to have been lost to corruption and waste … thousands of ‘ghost employees’ were receiving pay cheques from Iraqi ministries … Some of the funds could have enriched both criminals and insurgents.”[/quote]
I just found this story at GNN here on a list of reprinted headlines. Strangely, I can’t make it come up on Google News or Google News Archive no matter what search terms I enter. Anyone know how that could be so? I’m puzzled.
And why didn’t this story become higher profile? It seems coverage of corruption in the new American protectorate of profits is lacking.