Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, halted KPMG’s efforts after weeks of work because he insisted there should be a public tender process for the contract. KPMG had been appointed by the Iraqi Governing Council.
A source close to the KPMG team told Accountancy Age they believe the job is still possible despite fears expressed by advisers to the IGC that pulling the firm out has opened a window of opportunity for the destruction of documents and computer files related to the programme.
The source said the team was ‘still confident it could do a good job’.
KPMG’s contract has become the subject of confusing bureaucratic procedures in Iraq. The firm was awarded the work by the governing council on the advice of Claude Hankes-Drielsma, a London-based consultant and former chairman of Price Waterhouse, at the beginning of March. By the end of the month Paul Bremer had called a halt and insisted a tender process must take place if he was to authorise money from the Iraq Development Fund to be spent on the investigation.
The governing council followed the advice and confirmed KPMG in the contract. But it then emerged that Bremer had ordered a second tender process to be run by the CPA leaving KPMG in limbo.
KPMG staff, under the leadership of Adam Bates, global head of forensics, have visited Baghdad twice so far to secure documents.
KPMG sources downplayed the damage that could be done to evidence while the firm’s work was suspended. ‘It’s very difficult to cover up the trail,’ said the source, pointing to the fact that central to KPMG’s investigation will be the investigation of computer files.
So far there has been no shortage of volunteers to go to Baghdad for KPMG despite the current levels of conflict. ‘People want to work on jobs of historic importance where you are trying to establish the truth,’ the source said.
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