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US Iraq watchdog agency under investigation-report - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. agency charged with investigating allegations of waste and fraud by contractors involved in rebuilding Iraq is itself the subject of four government probes, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Employee allegations of overspending and mismanagement at the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) prompted an examination of the agencies financial practices by the FBI and federal prosecutors, the Post said.

A U.S. House of Representatives panel, an Army office and another federal agency were conducting separate investigations into complaints from SIGIR staff members, the Post said.

The agency’s Inspector General, Stuart Bowen, told the newspaper “no current SIGIR official has been notified that he or she is the subject or target of any such investigation.”

Bowen said the congressional investigation had ended and refused comment on the complaint to the Army, the Post said.

Law enforcement sources and a congressional spokesman said all four probes were continuing, the newspaper reported.

One of the most serious allegations under investigation is whether top SIGIR official accessed without authorization employee e-mail messages stored on computers maintained by the U.S. Army, the Post said, citing people questioned by investigators and documents obtained by the newspaper.

Prosecutors have presented evidence of alleged wrongdoing to a grand jury in Virginia, which has subpoenaed SIGIR for thousands of pages of financial documents and other records, the report said.

Complaints obtained by the newspaper ranged from retaliatory firing of a whistle-blower to “sustained patterns of inappropriate behavior,” the Post said.

Current and former SIGIR employees have told investigators that Bowen’s deputy, Ginger Cruz, a self-described wiccan, threatened to put hexes on employees and made inappropriate sexual remarks.

The Post said Cruz denied making comments of a “sexual nature” and noted that she was cleared of wrongdoing by an internal SIGIR investigation.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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