Naharnet

Iraq Seeking to Recover Stolen Money Found in Lebanon

An Iraqi lawmaker has revealed that authorities in Baghdad were seeking to recover around 2 billion dollars of Iraqi money found in a bunker in rural Lebanon.

The MP, who is a member of the parliamentary integrity committee, told the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat published on Friday that the appropriations committee was able to return 1 billion dollars of money frozen in several countries.

The committee is now seeking to recover the cash found in Lebanon and frozen money in the Sultanate of Oman.

It is believed that ministers in former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet were involved in smuggling the cash, which was earmarked for the reconstruction of Iraq.

A U.S. official said in October that he did not know how around 1.2 billion dollars to 1.6 billion dollars of cash got to Lebanon.

Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a friend from Texas of ex-President George W. Bush, said: “Billions of dollars have been taken out of Iraq over the last 10 years illegally,” he said. “In this investigation, we thought we were on the track for some of that lost money. It’s disappointing to me personally that we were unable to close this case, for reasons beyond our control.”

Bowen was in 2004 appointed to serve as a special inspector general to investigate corruption and waste in Iraq.

Before his office was finally shut down last year, Bowen believed he might have succeeded, but only partly, in that mission.

Bowen said he talked to al-Maliki about the missing money and his discovery of the bunker and that the ex-PM never took any action.

In addition to the cash, there was said to be approximately 200 million dollars in gold belonging to the Iraqi government.

G.K.

H.K.


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