$1 Billion Stolen From Iraq's Defense Ministry

 Politics, War  Comments Off on $1 Billion Stolen From Iraq's Defense Ministry
Sep 212005

The Iraq Defense Ministry is the victim of one of the largest thefts in history. One billion dollars meant to buy arms from Pakistan and Poland was siphoned off, resulting in overpayment for inferior equipment such as "armoured cars…so poorly made that even a bullet from an elderly AK-47 machine-gun could penetrate their armour." The deals that resulted in lost money and inferior equipment were quick, awarded without bidding, paid up front, and signed with a Baghdad-based company, instead of directly with a foreign supplier. Officials are unclear where the money has gone, but have put out an arrest warrant for Ziyad Cattan, the defense ministry’s procurement chief at the time, whose appointment was approved by Paul Bremer, then US viceroy in Iraq. Iraqi officials say that, "[t]he carefully planned theft has so weakened the army that it cannot hold Baghdad against insurgent attack without American military support…making it difficult for the US to withdraw its 135,000- strong army from Iraq."