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Iraq recovers computers involved in corruption row

Port official sold $1.9m worth of computers for a little over $45,000

Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr.
Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr.

Iraqi custom officials claim to have recovered 90% of the computers that were sold for cheap by an unnamed port official instead of being offered as a gift to local schoolchildren.

$1.9 million worth of computers, bought by U.S. forces for schoolchildren in the Babil province, were supposedly misappropriated by the official who auctioned the units for $45,700.

The situation first came to light when U.S. forces in southern Iraq accused the official at the Umm Qasr port on Thursday, as reported by the Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

The Umm Qasr Customs Department retaliated on Friday saying the computers were sold in accordance with the legal disposal procedure for goods that remain unclaimed 90 days after arriving in Iraq.

"On May 19 we received a list from the port of Umm Qasr of containers arriving more than 90 days earlier and which had not been claimed," customs chief Nofal Salim told AFP. "No container belonging to the American military appeared on the list."

Salim added that there were two from a company named ‘Global' without any indication that they were destined for education authorities in Babil.

Global only submitted a claim for the containers on August 22nd, six months after their arrival, Salim stated.

"The customs service in the south cancelled the sale and has recovered more than 90 percent of the cargo, which will be sent to the Umm Qasr port where the company can get them back (computers)," he added.

A statement from the US military disputes Salim's version of events and the U.S. army commander in southern Iraq, Major General Vincent Brooks, has called for "an immediate investigation into the actions of the Umm Qasr official."