Tags: Iraqis | Use | U.N. | Money | Enhance | NYC | Real

Iraqis Use U.N. Money to Enhance NYC Real Estate Portfolio

Friday, 15 June 2007 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Reacting to a NewsMax report about Iraq's United Nations mission "raiding" the bank accounts of the organization's WMD arms inspectors, courtesy of the Bush White House and the Security Council, a senior mission official meekly insisted it was justified.

A diplomatic veteran, carried over from the Saddam Hussein government, who did not want his name revealed, insisted that the current government in Baghdad had the "right" to lay claim to the hundreds of millions of dollars that had been lying dormant in the bank accounts of the U.N. Monitoring, Observation and Verification Commission (UNMOVIC).

That U.N. organization, which had been empowered to uncover Saddam's WMD, has been essentially frozen in time since it vacated Iraq shortly before the invasion in March 2003.

It also had more than $350 million collected from U.N.-imposed tarriffs on Iraqi oil sales.

With Saddam gone and a U.S. ally installed, Baghdad insists arms inspections are no longer needed and with U.S. support wants all the money returned.

To date, almost $300 million has been removed from the UNMOVIC piggy bank and given to the Baghdad government.

Some has gone to pay Iraqi bills to various international agencies, some has gone into the Iraqi Development Fund.

That fund was created by Washington as a successor to the scandal-plagued U.N. Iraq Oil for Food Program.

It too has come under scrutiny by Capitol Hill for "unusual" expenditures.

Yet, other money has gone to Iraq's U.N. mission in NYC -- almost $42 million.

According to a letter to the Security Council by Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, that money was to go for "renovations" to Iraq's U.N. mission building and ambassador's residence.

Zebari also stated that Baghdad wanted to purchase a new U.N. mission on Manhattan's East Side, "closer to United Nations headquarters."

The Iraqi diplomatic veteran contacted by NewsMax insisted that request "was justified."

As such, he proceeded to itemize the actual costs.

Each time, the estimates came in far less than the $42 million asked from the U.N.

The highest estimate, including the purchase of a new East Side building, came to approximately $26 million.

So, where is the additional $16 million going?

The Iraqi diplomat could offer no answer.

He did confide that while the diplomatic staff (numbering about 25) did not need two buildings, the retention of the old building and the purchase of a new one made sense if you wanted to "improve" your real estate portfolio.

"Get rid of our old mission -- are you kidding?"

The diplomat referred to a townhouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side near the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- prime Big Apple real estate.

"Our neighbors love us, they want us to stay," he confessed.

He was also at a loss to explain how both locations could be fully staffed.

He also admitted that such "expenditures" would likely "not be understood" by those in Baghdad who often wait on long lines for food and medicines every day.

Iraq's foreign minister, who penned the actual request to the U.N. for the money and who has been in NYC most of the week, was not available for comment.

One veteran African diplomat summed it up:

"$42 million for the Iraqi mission ... Wow! Do know what I could do with $42 million? It is incredible, don't get me started."

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NEW YORK -- Reacting to a NewsMax report about Iraq's United Nations mission "raiding" the bank accounts of the organization's WMD arms inspectors, courtesy of the Bush White House and the Security Council, a senior mission official meekly insisted it was justified. A...
Iraqis,Use,U.N.,Money,Enhance,NYC,Real,Estate,Portfolio
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2007-00-15
Friday, 15 June 2007 12:00 AM
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