Is Iraqi money an investment?
Alan Mauldin
The Moultrie Observer
MOULTRIE — With the announced pull out of American troops from Iraq by year’s end, many are speculating on the stability of that country which has several political factions pulling at its seams. How sound is its financial basis and just who will wind up in charge of that monetary system may be subject of much debate.

Meanwhile, a Colquitt County resident reported to The Observer that a number of county residents have been purchasing Iraqi money, a prospect she found credulous. She said that family members have received boxes of crisp Iraqi dinar that look fresh off the printing press and identified the company through which the purchases were made.

The company, Sterling Currency Group LLC is located in Atlanta and operates the website

The Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia has received 15 complaints related to Sterling Currency Group since December 2010, but did not report any complaints of alleged criminal activity related to the company. The report covers three years, but all of the complaints came within the past 10 months.

The complaints included two for advertising or sales issues, three related to delivery issues and 10 problems with the product or service. All 15 complaints had been resolved, the organization’s website said.

Leonard Crain, president of the Columbus Better Business Bureau, said the information on file shows “we have relatively few or major complaints or no pattern of complaints. It would be accurate to say what’s in that report is true and accurate to the best of Better Business Bureau’s knowledge.”

The organization has accredited Sterling and gave the currency exchange company a grade of “A minus” based on its knowledge of the company, period of operation and resolution of complaints. It pointed out that accreditation does not mean the organization has evaluated products and services and its competency in providing them or having given an endorsement.

Potential customers should do their research before making purchases from any company, and currency exchange is one that should be done in consultation with someone knowledgeable in that area, Crain said.

“You really want to get some professional assistance before spending any money,” he said. “Our advice would be to get some knowledge, get some help.”

When The Observer called Sterling on Wednesday, the call was transferred to a person named Jordan, who identified himself as a supervisor in the call center. He did not give a last name.

He said the company does not sell customers on currency speculation and is not in the business of advising them on particular purchases. Most customers who contact the company hear about it by word of mouth or doing an Internet search, where Sterling will appear near the top of the list of currency exchange companies, he said.

“We try to stay away from any investment terminology or any giving (of) advice,” he said.

The company does not refer to purchases as an investment and refers to transactions as the sale of currency, he said. Customers who do buy foreign currency do so with the hope that it will increase in value.

“If that happens they would probably be looking at making a profit,” he said. “Unfortunately there are companies that are taking advantage of all the hype going on with currency.”

Moultrie commodities trader Keith Brown, of Keith L. Brown and Co. said he could possibly think of worse investments than Iraqi money at this time, but would be hard pressed to do so.

“If you want to make a wild investment, I’d buy Russian rubles,” he said. “It (the dinar) would be one of the most foolhardy investments you can make.”

With the departure of all U.S. troops from the country coming by the end of the year and the fragility of the Iraqi government, Brown said that the country could be in for a rough time, even with the second-largest proven oil reserves of any country. The country also is likely to fall under the sway of Iran on one side and Turkey on the other.

“They have no organized government to speak of,” Brown said. “They have so many factions. What would back up that Iraqi currency? I just don’t see the legitimacy of swapping U.S. currency for Iraqi currency.”