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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Iraqi officials 'stole millions'
Iraqi tank
Officials say much of the purchased equipment is useless
A former Iraqi minister has said that officials in the former interim government stole about $800m (425m) meant for buying military equipment.

Former Finance Minister Ali Allawi told the US CBS network that about $1.2bn had been allocated for new weapons.

About $400m was spent on outdated equipment and the rest stolen, he said.

Mr Allawi said the UK and US had done little to recover the money or catch the suspects, who were "running around the world".

"We have not been given any serious, official support from either the United States or the UK or any of the surrounding Arab countries," he said.

"The only explanation I can come up with is that too many people in positions of power and authority in the new Iraq have been, in one way or another, found with their hands inside the cookie jar.

"And if they are brought to trial, it will cast a very disparaging light on those people who had supported them and brought them to this position of power and authority."

'Pay-offs'

The head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, Judge Radhi al-Radhi, said he had obtained arrest warrants for a number of officials in October 2005, but almost all the suspects fled the country.

None of the officials have been named.

But CBS's 60 Minutes programme also played an audio recording of Ziad Cattan, who was in charge of military procurement at the time, apparently talking in Amman, Jordan to an associate about pay-offs to senior Iraqi officials.

Mr Cattan denied any wrongdoing and said the recording had been doctored.

Iraqi investigators are currently looking into more than 1,000 corruption cases involving more than $7bn.


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