Kabul Bank fraud: Afghan PM reopens corruption case

Afghanistan’s new leader is resuming the investigation into a
banking fraud said to be one of the world’s largest.
Ashraf Ghani said reopening the Kabul Bank inquiry was the
first step in a fight against corruption.
The bank collapsed in 2010 after losing almost $1bn
(£600m), mostly deposited by international donors.
Many of the bank’s staff were sent to prison but the brothers
of former President Hamid Karzai, who were involved, were
granted immunity.
The bank’s founder, Sherkhan Farnood, and ex-CEO
Khalilullah Ferozi were jailed for five years after being
convicted last year of taking $810m of the $935m stolen.
Their sentence was described as “relatively light” by an anti-
corruption watchdog.
Eighteen others were also jailed but Mr Karzai’s brothers
and one of his vice-presidents escaped prosecution because
they had returned stolen funds.
President Ghani, a former economist at the World Bank, said
he was appointing a new team to look into the fraud,
fulfilling pledges he made in the campaign to cut corruption.
“The time for action has come and, as we pledged, the fight
against corruption will be done in a thorough and systematic
way,” he told reporters in Kabul.
The BBC’s David Loyn in Kabul says international donors
froze aid to Afghanistan when the bank collapsed four years
ago.
But aid was restarted after intensive investigations carried
out by donors foundered, our correspondent adds.
Most of the $935m that was lost remains undiscovered.
Mr Ghani was only sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president
on Monday, in the country’s first democratic transfer of
power.
The Kabul ceremony followed six months of bitter dispute
over electoral fraud that was ended by a US-brokered unity
deal that saw Mr Ghani share power with runner-up
Abdullah Abdullah, who becomes chief executive.
His government’s first act was to sign a security deal with US
officials that will allow US troops to remain in the country
beyond this year.

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