Posted: January 9, 2012 in Iraqi Dinar/Politics
Tags: Baghdad, Central Bank Iraq, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Iraq, Iraq War, Saddam Hussein, Stuart Bowen, United States
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Beginning in the earliest days of the war in Iraq, the New York Federal Reserve in New Jersey, shipped billions of dollars in physical cash to Baghdad. The money came from Saddam Hussein’s assets frozen under global sanctions regimes and was sent to help restart the government and restore basic services. Much of it may have been used on the things it was intended for, but hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars are missing. As investigators are rushing to determine what happened to the money, CNBC tracked down the last American official responsible for delivering the cash before it disappeared inside the vaults of the Central Bank of Iraq.
In the first two years of the Iraq War, the US government shipped more than 281 million individual bills – 363 tons of cash. But soon after arriving at Iraq’s Central Bank, the paper trail documenting who controlled the money went cold.THE CONVOY
Trucks loaded with cash traversed the “Route Irish,” a perilous seven-mile journey through downtown Baghdad across territory often controlled by insurgents. It was a potentially deadly task with enormous risk.
His first name is Basel, a naturalized American citizen born in Saudi Arabia, who says he handled an astonishing $40 billion dollars in Iraq between 2003 and 2008. Basel may have been the last American to see the money before it disappeared into Iraq’s Central Bank.
Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, believes senior Iraqi officials stole millions, if not billions of dollars. Although there have been hundreds of reports, hearings and inquiries from Washington to Baghdad, no one can say with certainty what happened to the money.