The NGO that Wasn’t: Bogus Charities Collecting Billions

Previously NGOs were seen as critical to Iraq’s reconstruction efforts. But numbers have dwindled. And not everyone is sad to see them go – many were fakes, siphoning funds, engaged in corruption and deceiving locals, according to this report from Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

It is highly likely that over the past eight years billions of dollars have disappeared into fake non-governmental organizations in Iraq, never to be seen again or accounted for.

Some of the fake non-governmental organizations (or NGOs) were taken to task but others simply disappeared or ceased to exist. And the directors of some of the NGOs – organizations not a part of the government yet not a conventional, profit-making business – fled Iraq with the money they had collected, others went underground.

The current head of the Iraq government body in charge of registering NGOs in Iraq, Ahmed al-Attar told NIQASH that he has no idea how much cash Iraq’s bogus NGOs have managed to collect since 2003. However he agreed that “these organizations have created a crisis of confidence - between local and international NGOs and organizations, and also between the NGOs and the Iraqi people. They have tarnished the image of civil society in Iraq,” he concluded.

Before the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that saw the end of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime, non-governmental organisations did not really exist. This is mainly because there were no institutions that were not affiliated with the ruling Baath party, which Hussein led. For this reason, as the International Centre for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL), an international body with offices around the world that promotes “an enabling legal environment for civil society” organizations says none of them could “be said to be a truly “non-governmental” organizations.

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