Billions of US aid usurped by corrupt agencies, contractors

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December 22, 2010 20:07

Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan has been accused of corruption by a group of US senators when he awarded a consulting contract to an official tied to BlackWater. Photo - Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP

Who: Arnold Fields, special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

What: American taxpayers are losing billions of dollars as corrupt aid agencies and security contractors continue to misappropriate reconstruction aid and zero out US efforts to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, a special investigator said in his report. The retired Marine Corps major general said the cost of US assistance funding diverted or squandered since 2002 could reach “well into the millions, if not billions, of dollars.”

Where: The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction issued the report in his office in Arlington, Virginia.

When: The former military officer spoke about the report on Tuesday, 21 December.

Why: The auditors office was created in 2008 to plug the holes in US reconstruction and aid efforts. Estimates suggest some $56 billion of aid for Afghanistan has vanished since 2002. “There are no controls in place sufficient enough to ensure taxpayers’ money is used for the (intended) purpose,” said Fields. Analysts believe shady aid organisations and security contracting firms used by the US army are involved in the multi-billion dollar corruption and slip through the legal loopholes that save them from the prosecution of the Afghan and US government and protect their mercenary role and special relationship with the occupation authorities. A group of senators recently urged US President Obama to fire the special inspector general after appointing a disgraced former SIGAR head as his consultant.

How: The SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) report is the latest in a growing number of corruption probes detailing massive amounts of aid being stolen. Out of the $56 billion sum thought to have embezzled, some $29 billion has gone to building up Afghanistan’s nascent security forces. Another $16 billion is claimed to have spent on trying to develop the poor Central Asian country. The war in Afghanistan costs US taxpayers at least $113 billion a year.

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