A British charity has accused the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq of failing to account for $4bn meant to help rebuild the country.
The 'missing' $4bn includes assets from Saddam Hussein's government
The charity, Christian Aid, said in a report that the authority had not publicly disclosed its accounts since Saddam Hussein was ousted in April.
The report's authors calculated that the CPA had received at least $5bn in oil revenues and assets seized from Saddam Hussein's government.
However, only $1bn of this could be traced, while the rest had simply vanished into a "financial black hole", said the report.
"For all the talk of freedom and democracy for the Iraqi people before, during and after the war which toppled Saddam Hussein," said the report, "there is no way of knowing how the vast majority of this money has been spent".
The charity's accusations come as a big international conference to raise money for the reconstruction of Iraq is getting under way in the Spanish capital, Madrid.
However, Christian Aid says the lack of information about what happened to the existing money is fuelling suspicion and mistrust among ordinary Iraqis.
One of the report's authors, Dominic Nutt, said it was possible that the money had been spent in a perfectly legitimate way, but the authority had not demonstrated this as it was obliged to do by the terms of its United Nations mandate.
A spokeswoman for the CPA in Baghdad responded by saying that the authority was committed to "the highest standards of transparency and accountability" in its handling of Iraqi funds.