How Americans Fleeced Iraqi Reconstruction

Follow the money. That’s what federal investigators did in the case of the $150 billion spent on Iraq’s reconstruction. In the past six months alone, they’ve uncovered more than 50 instances of fraud or bribery on the part of Americans, resulting in fresh indictments. Many of the cases appear to be shameless, with some suspects simply mailing thousands of dollars home or smuggling money out of the country in duffel bags. Others sent millions via wire transfers. Officials found the cash was used to buy BMWs, plastic surgery, or pay down casino debts. “I’ve had a continuing sense that there is ongoing fraud that we have not been able to nail down,” the head of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction told The New York Times. “This spate of new cases is evidence that that sense was reasonably well placed.” So far, there have been 58 fraud cases put forth by the government involving reconstruction funds that have led to successful convictions.