- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Iraq oil probe to take many months
Question of the Day
NEW YORK — The U.S.-led administration in Iraq said the probe of the United Nations’ oil-for-food scandal could take up to 18 months — well past the date set for Iraqi elections being organized by the United Nations.
Officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority, briefing reporters in Baghdad, denied that the lengthy investigation was designed to short-circuit a probe under way by the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), one many believe could embarrass the world body.
The CPA-endorsed probe, to be conducted by the international accounting firm Ernst & Young, could last from six to 18 months and cost up to $20 million, the CPA officials said.
Critics in Washington and Baghdad say the CPA’s insistence on controlling the process has delayed the investigation, sparing the United Nations a potential public relations disaster before June 30. That is when a U.N.-picked interim government takes over from the IGC to prepare for national elections in early 2005.
The General Accounting Office has estimated that the regime of Saddam Hussein siphoned about $10.1 billion from the U.N. program, which was intended to allow Iraq to buy food and humanitarian aid through tightly controlled sales of oil.
The United Nations’ oversight of the program, including charges U.N. officials were among those bribed by Saddam, is the focus of multiple investigations in Baghdad, on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations.
The Ernst & Young estimate could delay a final assessment of the program until 2006.
“Ernst & Young will be doing all the analytical work and documentation,” said one senior CPA official, who asked not to be identified. “The $20 million is ceiling” for the job.
The official said the work could go faster and more efficiently “if there are savings and synergies” among the various investigations into the scandal.
At least four congressional panels in Washington are looking into the oil-for-food scandal. Some lawmakers have been critical of Iraq’s American civilian administrator, L. Paul Bremer, for opposing the IGC’s efforts to expose corruption under the U.N. program.
The CPA and Mr. Bremer canceled an earlier contract the IGC had signed with the accounting firm KPMG to investigate the scandal, saying there had not been competitive bids for the work.
Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a London-based financial adviser who has been working with Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi and the IGC since December on the probe, told a House hearing last month that the delay caused by the CPA “is most unfortunate and carries a great deal of risk.”
The IGC investigation originally hoped to present its findings to Mr. Bremer and U.N. officials by the end of next month, just before the scheduled transfer of power to a U.N.-endorsed interim government.
CPA officials yesterday said a memorandum of understanding had been negotiated that would allow the United Nations and the Iraqi investigations to share some information and documentation. It is not clear who would have controlled documents compiled by KPMG and Mr. Chalabi.
CPA officials have denied Mr. Chalabi’s accusations that an Iraqi police raid on his offices last week was designed to seize oil-for-food records.
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- House backs faster deportations, cancels 'Dreamer' policy
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors