IG in Afghanistan: $201M in fuel purchases untraceable
By HEATH DRUZIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 21, 2012
KABUL — More than $200 million in Department of Defense fuel purchases for the Afghan army remain unaccounted for because officers improperly destroyed documents, according to a report released Thursday by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
The inspector general reported in September that all NATO Training Mission financial records covering $475 million in fuel purchases for the Afghan National Army from 2007 to February 2011 had been shredded, though the training mission was later able to find records through February 2010. Still, records for $201 million in fuel purchases were destroyed and remain unaccounted for, according to Thursday’s report.
A SIGAR investigation found no evidence of criminal activity, but did find that the document shredding violated a federal regulation and that the shredding happened within days of a U.S. Central Command directive forbidding financial managers from destroying financial records related to the war in Afghanistan. Two officers interviewed for the investigation said the documents were scanned before shredding, though the scanned images were not found, and that the destruction was aimed at saving storage space.
“Given the high risk for fraud, waste, and abuse in U.S. assistance provided to Afghanistan, it is especially important that U.S. agencies adhere to records retentions policies and procedures to facilitate the availability of financial records for audit and review,” the report says.
Officials with ISAF declined comment on the report.
Thursday’s report comes on the heels of a SIGAR audit released Tuesday that found nearly $13 million in equipment purchased by the U.S. to help Afghanistan’s national utility company is sitting unused in a Kandahar warehouse with no plans for installation and that the U.S. Agency for International Development had paid a contractor nearly $6 million for a related utility project that was never completed.