Essential role for Big Four in Iraq

It is in the nature of regimes like Saddam Hussein’s to participate in outrageous acts of financial corruption and fraud. But the scale of the crimes surrounding the oil for food programme has left observers, not only appalled, but convinced that something should be done.

Enter the accountants. The Big Four have led the way with the reopening of offices to serve, not only local and international business, but also the Coalition Provisional Authority and Iraq’s Governing Council.

Some might argue that it is indecent to rush headlong into a war zone.

The phrase ‘someone always makes a profit in a war’ springs to mind. But this would be unfair – not least if you look at the example of KPMG.

The firm should be tracking what happened to the billions of dollars that seem to have disappeared from the oil for food programme. Unfortunately the investigation has been halted while the CPA undertakes a new tender process.

In a democracy, with all the responsibilities for transparency and accountability that go along with it, the firm’s job – establishing the truth, recovering assets and identifying the guilty – is essential. Their work is one of the critical layers in a ‘civil society’ of functioning institutions that must account for their actions.

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