Kabul Bank fraud suspects to face trial
KABUL DOZENS of people accused of fraud in the Kabul Bank scandal have been referred to a special tribunal for trial and arrest warrants have been issued, Afghanistan’s attorney general’s office said.
Deputy attorney general Rahmatullah Nazari said his investigations showed that 35 people, including former executives, were involved in the fraud that pushed the institution to the point of collapse in 2010.
The investigations were over and the suspects had been referred to a special tribunal set up by President Hamid Karzai’s order to deal with the case, he said at the weekend.
The attorney general’s office was demanding that the alleged culprits — including a former central bank governor now living in the United States — be punished and fined.
He did not name all the suspects, but said about 14 were now living abroad.
Renamed ‘New Kabul Bank’, the country’s largest private lender was bailed out by Karzai’s administration after its former bosses failed to return $900 million they had secretly taken in off-book loans.
Nazari said that if assets seized from the bank’s former bosses and shareholders — including properties in Dubai — fetched good prices they could raise more than $600 million.
Among the shareholders is a brother of Karzai, Mahmood Karzai, and the brother of his vice president Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim.
Nazari said the president’s brother had paid back his debts but a dispute over his shares in the bank had yet to be cleared by a government-run anticorruption body. He refused to give details.
In April, the central bank announced plans to sell the Kabul Bank in June. “The plan is to sell it back to the private sector in June,” central bank governor Noorullah Delawari said.
Delawari said another option was for half the shares to be sold to turn the bank into a joint-venture between the government and the private sector.
The sale would take place through a tender process, the central bank chief added.
The Kabul Bank scandal prompted the International Monetary Fund to temporarily suspend hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid to Afghanistan.