BBC News | 27 July 2010 | 09:32 GMT
A US federal watchdog has criticised the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money. Out of just over $9bn (£5.8bn), $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says. The US military said the funds were not necessarily missing, but that spending records might have been archived. In a response attached to the report, it said attempting to account for the money might require "significant archival retrieval efforts".
Much of the money came from the sale of Iraqi oil and gas. Some frozen Saddam Hussein-era assets were also sold off. The funds in question were administered by the US Department of Defence between 2004 and 2007, and were earmarked for reconstruction projects. But, the report says, a lack of proper accounting makes it impossible to say exactly what happened to most of the money. This is not the first time that allegations of missing billions have surfaced in relation to the US-led invasion of Iraq and its aftermath. No-one from the Iraqi government was immediately available for comment.