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Kabul Bank Case under Spotlight

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Officials at the Attorney General Office say they have arrested even out of 21 individuals involved in Kabul Bank’s corruption case in collaboration with Kabul police. The spokesman of the Attorney general Office said the agency is now pursuing the rest of those accused of involvement in the case. According to the AGO spokesman, two key stakeholders of the bank case are now in prison and former banker Abdul Qadir Fitrat is living in the United States. The latest developments are coming as the new administration is bolstering efforts to conclude the bank’s case in a short timeframe which would give the unity government a strong start in its reform programs.

After President Ashraf Ghani ordered quick review of the nearly four-year-old Kabul Bank corruption case, the Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of Finance have been under intense pressure to deliver the promise and bring those involved in the Kabul Bank’s corruption case to justice. The Kabul Bank financial scandal emerged in 2010 and 2011 when it became public knowledge that about $1 billion was embezzled by high-ranking officials of the bank. The Kabul Bank’s scandal has been viewed as the biggest financial scandal in the world compared to the size of Afghanistan’s economy. The over $900 million fraud that caused Kabul Bank to collapse in 2010 put the entire financial system of Afghanistan in risk. The case proved how the country is vulnerable to large-scale corruption.

As the new government is exerting pressures on relevant authorities to speed up the case, there are keen interests from the public and political class in the country whether the president would be able to fulfill his promise regarding the fraud case. At the time the judiciary under the former government concluded the bank’s case by sending tow top officials to five years in prison. However, the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), comprised of representatives from Afghan government and major international financial institutions, said actions of Kabul Bank’s special court were not adequate as it has failed to pursue many other individuals involved in the case. The MEC officials said the court has delivered some innocent people guilty verdicts while there were many others involved in the fraud who received loans from the Bank.

President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai hopes to restore the international community’s confidence as well as the Afghan public’s trust over his government’s determination in fighting corruption. The donors of Afghanistan are reluctant to commit to further help for Afghanistan due to the level of corruption in the country. The Kabul Bank case in 2010 and 2011 put Afghanistan under close attention of the world about how the country fights corruption and fulfills its pledges to the international community for eliminating corruption. Based on the Tokyo agreement, the international community agreed to fund Afghan government and its security forces after the NATO ends its mission by the year 2014.

The Kabul Bank’s fraud case shows Afghanistan still has a long way ahead to fulfill its commitments to the international community through far-reaching fight against corruption. In general, the Kabul Bank fraud case seems to be going into the right direction. However, still there are skepticisms whether how the new government would be able to handle the bank fraud case.

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