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British Firms make over £1 Billion in Iraq

British businesses have profited by at least £1.1bn since coalition forces toppled Saddam Hussein three years ago according to a Corporate Watch R eport . Among the top earners is the construction firm Amec, which has made an estimated £500m from a series of contracts restoring electrical systems and maintaining power generation facilities during the past two years. Aegis, which provides private security has earned more than £246m from a three-year contract with the Pentagon to co-ordinate military and security companies in Iraq. Erinys, which specialises in the same area, has made more than £86m, a substantial portion from the protection of oilfields. A total of 61 British companies are identified as benefiting from at least £1.1bn of contracts and investment in the new Iraq. This UK figure is certain to be an understatement, as the value of several large contracts is not known. These include the printing of the new Iraqi Dinar by De La Rue and Datasat\'s \'major telecomms contract\', plus the money that successful security forms such as Hart, AK Group and Olive have made. It is also hard to gauge the revenue and influence that the banks HSBC and Standard Chartered have gained through their operations in Iraq. The real UK total is certain to be far behind the US corporate Iraq profits; the latest Haliburton/KBR military contract alone is worth about £2.85bn Of the total profits published in the report, the British taxpayer has had to meet a bill for £78m while the US taxpayer\'s contribution to UK corporate earnings in Iraq is nearly nine times that. Iraqis themselves have paid British companies £150m. Corporate Watch estimates there are between 20,000 and 30,000 security personnel working in Iraq, half of whom are employed by companies run by retired senior British officers and at least two former defence ministers. The biggest British player, Aegis - run by Tim Spicer, the former British army lieutenant colonel who founded the security company Sandline - has a workforce the size of a military division and may rank as the largest corporate military group ever assembled, according to the Report. Britain is also playing a leading role in advising on the creation of state institutions and the business of government. PA Consulting, which has also received a contract for advising on the Government\'s ID cards scheme, worth around £19m, is now a key adviser in Iraq. Adam Smith International, a body closely linked to the right-wing think-tank used by Margaret Thatcher, has been heavily involved in the foundation of the Iraqi government and continues to influence its newly formed ministries. Another favourite of the Thatcher governments, now involved in Iraq, is Tim Bell, who ran the Tories\' election campaigns in 1979, 1983 and 1987. His PR firm Bell-Pottinger has been involved in advising on the 2004 elections and a strategic campaign to promote bigger concepts such as the return of sovereignty, reconstruction, support for the army and police, minority rights and public probity. Loukas Christodoulou, of Corporate Watch, says in his conclusion : \"The presence of these consultants in Iraq is arguably a part of the UK government\'s policy to push British firms as lead providers of privatisation support. The Department for International Development has positioned itself as a champion of privatisation in developing countries. The central part UK firms are playing in reshaping Iraq\'s economy and society lays the ground for a shift towards a corporate-dominated economy. This will have repercussions lasting decades.\" In five years, the £1.1bn of contracts identified in the report will be dwarfed by what Britain and the US hope to reap from investments. Highly lucrative oil contracts have yet to be handed out.