19 September 2005

Establishing kleptocracy in Iraq

Looking a recent news, I came across this. (But while the particulars are news, is it all really so new?)

Large-scale corruption in Iraq's ministries, particularly the defence ministry, has led to one of the biggest thefts in history with more than $1 billion (555 million pounds) going missing, Iraq's finance minister said in an interview.

It's always so aggravating when the previous thieves have already looted the house you just broke into.

"Huge amounts of money have disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal," Finance Minister Ali Allawi told British newspaper The Independent in a report published on Monday. "It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history."

Payment of massive amounts of money to inside contractors for nothing! How audacious! Hal- . . . I mean how did the Iraqis come up with such a scheme!

Corruption, both in the bidding for and the awarding of contracts, and in the administration of public offices, is one of the most frequent accusations made by Iraqis against their government and foreign firms operating in the country. Some of the worst allegations of impropriety concern the purchasing of military equipment by the defence ministry under the previous government, including more than $230 million spent on 28-year-old second-hand Polish helicopters.

You mean the Poles weren't there out of patriotic dedication to the American cause? There was money involved?

"If you compare the amount that was allegedly stolen of about $1 billion compared with the budget of the ministry of defence, it is nearly 100 percent of the ministry's (procurement) budget that has gone (missing)," Allawi said.

So what? As my high school football coach used to say, you've gotta give 110%.

Most of the questionable contracts are said to have been signed under the previous government, headed by Iyad Allawi, which served from June 28, 2004 until late February this year.

I don't know why people go on about a missing billion or two. People can be so negative sometimes. It really harshes my mellow.

The former defence minister, Hazim Shaalan, is now living as a private citizen in Jordan. He has denied any wrongdoing.

That's why he moved to Jordan. (Maybe Jordan can give him some of Challabi's frozen assets.)

Allawi, the finance minister, was also quoted by the newspaper as saying $500-$600 million had vanished from the electricity, transport, interior and other ministries. The newspaper reported that the total amount missing from all the ministries could be as much as $2 billion.

What's two billion? We can make that up in a matter of years. We'll just skip a little levy construction here, some assistance to the dying there, roofs and plumbing for a thousand schools everywhere and we'll get that money back in no time.

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