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Missing Iraq Rebuilding Money Prompts Criminal Probe

A U.S. federal inspector says more than 96-million dollars earmarked for projects to rebuild Iraq cannot be accounted for.

The report by Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen has prompted a criminal investigation into the missing money.

Mr. Bowen's report, released Thursday, describes how tens of millions of dollars were dispersed for Iraq construction projects with little or no documentation during 2003 and 2004.

The report says that while incompetence or haste may account for some problems, there are indications of fraud.

The inspector general notes the money in question was not U.S. taxpayer dollars but rather Iraqi money designated for reconstruction projects.

U.S. officials responding to the report have attributed the accounting problems to the difficulties of working in a war-time environment.