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Friday, March 24, 2017
Aid agency's concerns over Iraq oil money verified
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¬†As the occupying forces handed over power to a new Iraqi government at the end of June, Christian Aid released a report saying that the coalition was in breach of a UN resolution for failing to account for how it had spent up to $20 billion of Iraq's oil revenues. In mid-July the first independent audit of the coalition's spending was finally published. It is highly critical. Christian Aid's concerns are proving justified. ∑ Christian Aid said there was not enough information available to see whether Iraq's money was being spent in the interests of the Iraqi people. This was the basis on which the coalition was given control of Iraq's oil revenues. The auditors said that there was not enough control of the spending to be sure that it was being spent 'for the purposes intended'. ∑ The agency said it was impossible to see who was receiving contracts and whether they offered the best value. The auditors are concerned about reconstruction contracts awarded without competitive bidding, particularly to the US company Halliburton which has received up to $1.6 billion in contracts. Despite requests from the UN-mandated oversight board and the auditors, the coalition authorities have failed to provide information on these non-competitive contracts. ∑ Christian Aid said that it was impossible to know exactly how much oil was being produced and sold because oil extraction has not been metered and there is not enough information available about the contracts for its sale. This creates an environment ripe for corruption. The auditors highlight 'weaknesses in controls over oil extraction', such as the absence of metering, as well as insufficient record-keeping of oil transactions.
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