Thursday, October 16, 2014


The public disclosure this week, by former US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, that more than a billion dollars, in cash, delivered to the Government of Iraq, ended up in a bunker in Lebanon, was no surprise to anyone familiar with the situation. Bowen's frustration with American indifference to conducting a thorough investigation of the mega-theft is understandable, but you must remember that the stolen money, which was many billions of dollars in greenbacks, actually belonged to the people of Iraq, not the US, as it represented unfrozen Iraq oil profits, disbursed to the Government of Iraq, in the early days of the new administration. The injured party here is Iraq, not the United States.

That being said, the back story should be brought out into the light.

(1)The bulk cash smuggling, which was carried on by a Kurdish group, was conducted on behalf of one of Iraq's most powerful organizations.
(2) The funds were smuggled out, in lots of $500m each, into Lebanon, where they were handled by an intermediary, and used to purchase real estate (mainly single-family residences) from Christian Lebanese owners, for cash.
(3) When these residences are sold, the money will be effectively laundered.

This is not to say that some of the money did not end up in offshore financial centers; a portion of the money was processed by one of the largest Swiss banks, and it is now in the bank, in Geneva. The bank's complicity is not an aberrant circumstance; it is one of those sanctioned by US regulators not too long ago.

Therefore, if you were wondering why it is often so easy to obtain US Dollars in Lebanon, they were originally diverted from Iraq reconstruction funds, into the deep pockets of corrupt Iraqi PEPs, and transported there.

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