$360M Lost to Insurgents, Criminals in Afghanistan

'Reverse money laundering' turned clean money dirty
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2011 8:21 AM CDT
The US military estimates that $360 million spent on combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan has ended up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and local power brokers.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)

(Newser) – While the US military has known for some time that a chunk of the money being spent in Afghanistan on logistics ends up in the hands of the Taliban and criminals, at last the military has an estimate of just how big those losses are—$360 million, according to a military audit of hundreds of Afghanistan contracts, reports the AP. Calling the process "reverse money laundering," the report describes how funds go from the US government to companies hired to provide everything from transportation to construction—and then into the pockets of criminal networks.

The report emphasized that most of the losses go to criminals and power brokers, with only a small amount ending up in insurgents' hands—however, since insurgents are able to operate so cheaply, even a few million can bolster their efforts. More than half of the losses flowed through a transportation contract called Host Nation Trucking, which was comprised of eight companies and nearly three dozen subcontractors. But the Defense Department announced Monday that it had selected 20 separate contractors for a new transportation contract potentially worth $983.5 million to replace Host Nation Trucking.

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