Saturday, 12.26.2015, 16:43
I honestly do not know how many creative ways people can scam when dealing with/in Kurdistan! There are so many stories about scams in Kurdistan and what has been going on in the past 12 years is absolutely mind boggling and beyond belief. I will need 100’s of hours of continuous writing just to cover a small number since there are so many of them. But, I am only going to mention three of such scams in this short article. Here are the three examples:
1- Last week the US- Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) held a meeting in Erbil to discuss areas of potential investment for U.S companies in the Kurdistan Region. During the gathering/meeting, they claim that 25 US companies participated, can anyone name them? I do not even believe a single American company was at this meeting!
There are currently three American companies (Exxon, Marathon oil and Hunt oil) that have contracts in Kurdistan and they are at 100% standstill and doing absolutely no work due to all that troubles that Kurdistan is facing today. Furthermore, they paid zero money (signing bonus to KRG) for the oil contract and they are spending no money in Kurdistan, which means they have zero investment, risk and commitment to Kurdistan.
When I tired to find out who runs USKBC firm/agency, I could not find a single name on their webs site! They do not have a single name of their personnel that are affiliated with this agency listed anywhere. Who are the people that are behind this scam? Who owns this agency? Who controls it? Who is getting the $30,000 from each member that joins them?
When I searched USKBC web site to see what does a $30,000 membership cost brings me, I found this short description of what they claim to do:
The organization is dedicated to facilitating trade and commerce for U.S. companies in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and to strengthen ties between the private sector in the U.S. and Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The USKBC seeks to highlight the unique opportunities for companies to invest in Kurdistan and to make it easier for companies to secure their investments and be successful.
So, why in the world would any sane person pay $30,000 a year in “membership” in order to have access to anyone in Kurdistan when there is no honest business opportunities available in Kurdistan? I, along with the US based company that I represented, have tired to do work in Kurdistan for over 12 years and we ended up with zero work.
2- UI Energy, based out of South Korea, was awarded a contract in 2004 to build a 400 bed hospital in Sulaimani- the same contract that I worked on for the US company that I represented. This contract was awarded to them at $57 Million when in fact the US tax payers had allocated, and paid, the KRG $150 Million for this hospital! And, on top of “some local” Kurds stole almost $100 Million from this contract and UI Energy ended up stealing $25,561,197 from this project and left Kurdistan! So, a $150 Million hospital projects end up with a lousy $25 Million to build.
The owner of UI Energy, Mr. Choi Kyu-sun, had a very close relationship with the KRG and in the end, he stole money from them and fled. I later read that Mr. Choi had spent years in Koran prison for corruption and embezzlement and yet the KRG warded him this contract!! I had written a detailed article about this subject on December 2011 and I have included the link below.
3- In the summer of 2010, a Japaneses agency, JICA, had granted the KRG $68 Million to rehabilitate hospitals in Arbil, Sulymanihai and Kirkuk. Out of the $68 Million, no more than $100,000 was spent and the rest was stolen by a local contractor and diverted the rest, which is over $67 Million, to a Jordanian bank!! I have included the link below to my article discussing this subject in details.
It is truly sad to see what is going on in Kurdistan nowadays and I hope the KRG would take notice of the scams that are taking place and stop it. Such scams will only hurts the reputation of the Kurds and Kurdistan and might very well discourage any foreign company to invest and do work in Kurdistan in the future. People are making millions, for doing absolutely nothing, in the name of Kurdistan and this needs to stop.
Rizgar Xoshnaw, a senior Kurdish writer based in Washington, a longtime contributing writer and columnist for Ekurd.net.