About $23 billion may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq, reports the BBC’s news magazine show, Panorama.

It’s not the first investigative report detailing lost billions in Iraq. Back in February 2006, 60 Minutes reported that the Coalition Provisional Authority couldn’t account for nearly $9 billion. And late last month, a congressional oversight committee held a hearing saying much the same thing: billions of American taxpayer funds were not properly accounted for in Iraq.

But $23 billion is a staggering amount, nearly three times the amount the Pentagon’s Inspector General reported in last month’s House hearing. To put $23 billion in perspective: more than 100 nations produced less than that in 2006, says the World Bank (countries like Kenya, Costa Rica, Iceland, Uruguay and Lebanon all reported lower GDPs in 2006 than the U.S. government has potentially lost in Iraq since the war began in 2003); the U.S. Department of Justice spent about $23 billion in the 2007 fiscal year; and it’s a few billion more than Coca-Cola and McDonald’s reported in total revenue last year.

The program originally aired across the pond on BBC One on Tuesday. Americans hoping to catch it on BBC America will have to wait; Panorama isn’t part of the broadcaster’s slate of shows. It will, however, be posted to the BBC’s website soon.

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Shahien Nasiripour

Shahien joined CIR in 2008 and covers the federal judiciary. His work at CIR has been published by Truthdig, California Lawyer magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review. Previously, he worked as a researcher for ESPN and as a reporter for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and The Providence Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.