Firms urged to join rush for Iraqi ‘gold’

Link: Accountants sought for Middle East ‘goldrush’

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), keen to encourage businesses into the shattered country to help with the job of reconstruction, has been pushing for more firms to follow the lead of PricewaterhouseCoopers and others by entering the Iraqi market.

Tom Foley, the CPA’s director of private sector development, compared the business climate of Iraq to the California gold rush in the mid-1850’s, saying that it rewarded ‘nimble, scrappy risk-takers’.

Speaking in Washington last Wednesday, he applauded PwC for entering Iraq. The same day, Ernst & Young announced its intention to re-open offices in Baghdad.

Fouad Alaeddin, managing partner of the firm’s Middle East section, said: ‘When the partners visited the country and talked to business people they came back very encouraged. Our clients are there taking risks and it’s our responsibility to be with them.’

In the supposed oil-led ‘black-gold rush’, two major wells of audit have so far drawn accountancy firms’ interest.

One is the newly created office of Iraqi ministry auditors, known as ‘inspector generals’.

Announced a fortnight ago by Paul Bremer, administrator of the CPA, the inspector generals’ responsibilities will include auditing and the prevention of fraud.

The second – and possibly the greatest Iraqi audit prize of all – is that of the $8bn (£4.2bn) Development Fund for Iraq. The window for submissions closed yesterday, and a decision is expected soon.

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