American Samizdat

Sunday, January 14, 2007. *
The American company appointed to advise the US government on the economic reconstruction of Iraq has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican Party coffers and has admitted that its own finances are in chaos because of accounting errors and bad management.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, BearingPoint employees gave $117,000 (£60,000) to the 2000 and 2004 Bush election campaigns, more than any other Iraq contractor. Other recipients include three prominent Congressmen on the House of Representatives' defence sub-committee, which oversees defence department contracts.
The company's shares have collapsed to a third of their value when the firm listed in 2001, and it faces being thrown out of the New York Stock Exchange altogether. Despite annual revenues of $3.4bn, the company made a loss of $722m in 2005. Those figures were released only last month, nine months late, and the company has not yet been able to report any fully audited figures at all for 2006.
BearingPoint is being paid $240m for its work in Iraq, winning an initial contract from the US Agency for International Development (USAid) within weeks of the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. It was charged with supporting the then Coalition Provisional Authority to introduce policies "which are designed to create a competitive private sector". Its role is to examine laws, regulations and institutions that regulate trade, commerce and investment, and to advise ministries and the central bank.

Last week The Independent on Sunday revealed that a BearingPoint employee, based in the US embassy in Baghdad, had been tasked with advising the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on drawing up a new hydrocarbon law. The legislation, which is due to be presented to Iraq's parliament within days, will give Western oil companies a large slice of profits from the country's oil fields in exchange for investing in new oil infrastructure.
Across the world, BearingPoint has become, thanks to USAid funding, a part of the US government's strategy of spreading free-market reforms to developing countries and America's allies. Elsewhere in the Middle East it is advising the government of Jordan on how to minimise the regulation of business and reform its tax policies in order to attract foreign investment; in Egypt it is advising on customs reform and respect for international companies' patents.

It has won more than $100m of business in Afghanistan since American troops invaded in 2002, and has been helping to build a banking system, training civil servants in the finance ministry and offering advice on economic policy.

Its economic reconstruction work grew out of early work in eastern Europe after the fall of communism, and became a significant contributor to the business after it won contracts in the former Yugoslavia following US intervention there.
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:05 PM
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