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Possible fraud in management of Iraq rebuilding funds, US investigator says

[JURIST] US officials and members of the Iraqi government have mismanaged $24 million in reconstruction grants made by the US in 2004, and fraudulent activities may have occurred in some of the cases, according to a report [text, PDF] released Wednesday by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction [official website]. Inspector General Stuart Bowen [official profile] said he has recommended an investigation into several cases of potential fraud related to grants given to Iraq's south-central region to help rebuilding efforts after the US invasion in 2003. The grants were meant to be used for projects including road repair, media work, and efforts to bring heightened awareness to women's rights issues, but it is not clear that the money was actually spent on those goals. Bowen's report said that individuals working for the Coalition Provisional Authority [official website] have not been able to account for $20.5 million in funds, and audits into these monies are still ongoing. The report recommends stricter controls over grants and also calls for the creation of an investigatory team to research whether other regions in Iraq had similar issues in managing grants. Reuters has more.

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