The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is refusing to tell U.S. government investigators how much money it sent to Iraq during the first years of the American invasion, as a top Iraqi official suggested the missing and possibly stolen funds from that era is more than $18 billion - nearly three times the previously reported figure.
CNBC reported Tuesday that the New York Fed won't reveal to the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction how much money went to the Middle Eastern nation, hampering an investigation seeking to determine how much of the cash was stolen.
And Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujafi told al-Jazeera Monday that the missing U.S. funds totals $18.7 billion.
"Iraq's development fund has lost around $18 billion of Iraqi money in these operations - their location is unknown," al-Nujafi said. "Also missing are the documents of expenditure. I think it will be discussed soon. There should be an answer to where has Iraqi money gone."
Last week, a congressional auditor estimated $6.6 billion of Bush-era reconstruction funds were stolen, suggesting "the largest theft of funds in national history."
The New York Fed won't reveal details, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen Jr. told CNBC, because technically the money came from an Iraqi government account, and the Iraqi government hasn't signed off on allowing access to that information.
"My frustration is not with the New York Fed, it is with the Iraqis," Bowen said. "They haven't been sufficiently responsive."
In fact, the Iraqi government may not want the U.S. to know because it may be Iraqi officials themselves who made off with the cash.
The Pentagon has long said it could determine what happened to the money if given time, but it has yet to do so. Iraq's government says the U.S., which controlled the country at the time, is responsible for the funds.