The investigative arm of Congress said Friday that the criminal investigation of former President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton has cost $70 million.

The General Accounting Office's figures make the probe of the Clintons the most expensive in the history of the now-expired law under which court-appointed independent counsels investigated top political figures.

The probe of the Clintons long ago surpassed the previous record of $47.4 million, spent by prosecutor Lawrence Walsh during his six-year investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal.

The Clinton investigation, which began in 1994, eclipsed the Iran-Contra cost three years ago.

The GAO said that Independent Counsel Robert Ray spent $3.7 million in the six months ending last Sept. 30, raising the total costs for the probe to $68 million. With additional costs since then, the figure is around $70 million.

In his final report earlier this month, Ray said he and his predecessor, Kenneth Starr, spent $42 million investigating the Clintons' involvement with their real estate partners Jim and Susan McDougal, owners of a failed Arkansas savings and loan.

Ray said that, as of a year ago, he and Starr had spent:

— $12.5 million on the perjury and obstruction probe of the president and his sexual relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

— $1.8 million investigating the death of deputy White House counsel Vincent Foster, which was ruled a suicide.

— $2 million investigating whether Hillary Clinton and presidential aides lied about the first lady's role in the purge of the White House travel office.

— $1.8 million investigating the Clinton White House's gathering of FBI background files of hundreds of employees from Republican administrations.