(IMF HQ, New York) Final preparations are underway today for the official unveiling of new Iraqi banknotes designed by a Halliburton all-party currency committee headed by Mark Hofmann, whose spectacular interpretation of 19th century archival texts so enchanted the State of Utah, the Church of Latter Day Saints and museum curators worldwide.
The new Bank of Cold Comfort in Iraq (BCCI) 100 Bakhsheesh note features a portrait in oils of Ariel Sharon sitting on the Great Pyramid, eyeing those farflung holiday camps of Chatilla and Sabra, so close to his personal meteoric rise to fame during the Reagan era. On the reverse is a bust of "God's Banker" Roberto Calvi, whose 1982 demise under London's Blackfriar's Bridge features prominently in the banknote's watermark under a hologram depicting the word 'Ambrosiano'.
The new 101 Bakhsheesh note depicts Cardinal Marcinkus holding a large bucket of whitewash in his left hand and a US Department of Justice Immunity from Prosecution Certificate signed by Vice President George Herbert Bush in his right hand, which is held aloft with the index and adjacent finger held high in what must surely be a quasi V-for-Victory sign pointing in the general direction of the UK's City of London Fraud Squad. The reverse of the note shows the Shah of Iran's personal Swiss bank account numbers and a letter of introduction from Colonel Oliver North.
The next new note, the 250 Bakhsheesh, has Ronald Reagan outside the Pearly Gates with a smiling St Peter, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim holding a banner which reads "Welcome to God's Banker's President". The reverse features Ariel Sharon counting nuclear warheads inside a temple in nearby Tel Aviv.
The 500 Bahkhsheesh shows President George Herbert Bush mouthing those immortal words so beloved by US electors everywhere: "Watch my quips: No New Taxis". The reverse depicts Margaret Thatcher in official robes of the Order of the Barter, surrounded by bullion from the 1983 Brinks-Mat gold heist from London's Heathrow Airport.
And finally, the 1000 Bakhsheesh note shows St George Bush slaughtering the dragon in Saddam's bunker, clothed in official ceremonial garb of the Enron Foundation with a British Lying Rampant in the foreground acting as a lamp post for a Crawford Poodle (genus Blairus Scareus).
Official exchange rates will be announced tomorrow when the newly resurrected BCCI opens for business. Meanwhile all transactions continue to be denominated in shekhels.