[JURIST] The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched a criminal probe of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) [official website] Stuart Bowen [official profile] on allegations that he misappropriated taxpayer money to pay for his legal defense during a 2006 administrative probe and that he improperly accessed employees' emails, according to a Thursday report in CongressDaily. The probe may also encompass questions about whether Bowen misled investigators by inflating the costs of a project to write a book about the Iraq reconstruction. Bowen maintained his innocence in comments to Congress Daily, and several employees familiar with the FBI investigation said that it might be politically motivated, as Bowen's office has uncovered multiple instances of fraud, bribery, and other legal violations [JURIST reports] by US government officials and government contractors in Iraq that have embarrassed the Bush administration.
Both houses of the US Congress passed legislation [JURIST report] extending the mandate of the SIGIR last December, and the agency will continue to monitor US spending in Iraq until the fall of 2008 pending President Bush's signature. SIGIR was originally established to independently supervise and investigate operations of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority [official website]. In May, the White House confirmed that the SIGIR's office was being investigated by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency [member list, PDF] after accusations of misconduct by former employees, but denied that that administrative investigation was politically motivated. AP has more. The Washington Post has additional coverage.