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US official: '$1.6bn in stolen Iraqi funds hidden in Lebanese bunker'

October 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

More than $1.6 billion in Iraqi funds had been stolen and moved to a bunker in rural Lebanon for safekeeping, the former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen told James Risen, investigative journalist for the New York Times.

Bowen said the discovery was made just before his office was closed. “I don’t know how the money got to Lebanon,” Bowen said. “If I knew that, we would have made more progress on the case.”

“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.”

The money came from the Development Fund of Iraq, which was created in 2003 by the UN with Iraqi oil revenue to be used for the country’s reconstruction.

Bowen said his investigators briefed the CIA and the FBI on their findings, however he believes they were unwilling to go after the money was “because it was Iraqi money stolen by Iraqis.”

The FBI and CIA declined to comment.