Kabul Bank’s Fraud Case under Spotlight
An anti-graft body on Sunday criticized the verdicts for the Kabul Bank’s former bosses and about twenty others involved in the Bank’s fraud case. 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.
These criticisms over the verdicts of Kabul Bank’s special court suggest that there are concerns over credibility of decisions of the special court that was set up to pursue the perpetrators of the scandal and bring back the money taken illegally from 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 $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.
It has brought Afghanistan under close attention of the world about how the country fights corruption and is going to fulfill its pledges to the international community for eliminating corruption. In Tokyo Conference, Afghanistan and the donor countries signed an agreement under which Afghanistan is obliged to efficiently fight corruption and improve governance. Based on this agreement, the international community agreed to fund Afghan government and its security forces after the NATO ends its mission by the year 2014.
But the development of Kabul Bank’s fraud case showed that Afghanistan has a long way ahead to fulfill it commitments to the international community. Recently, the special court designated for the Bank’s fraud case, jailed two former bosses of the bank and handed down guilty verdicts for many others. From different angels, the fraud case and the recent trials is not going to the right direction. In light of the scale of the scandal, the verdicts handed down by the special court for the former bosses of the Kabul Bank and eighteen others are believed to be a minimum punishment for those involved in the ‘biggest financial scandal’.
Furthermore, Involvement of Mahmood Karzai and Haseen Fahim, brothers of President Karzai and Vice President Mohmmad Qasim Fahim, in the case have brought it under the spotlight. But ignoring their role in the case has caused a lot of controversies and arguments that they are not pursued because of their positions and relationships with the government and high-ranking officials. This is perceived as if they are virtually above the law and can never be brought to justice for their wrongdoings. The case would a test for the government of Afghanistan if it is going to fight corruption seriously. It must do differently, or would fail in fulfilling its obligations to the world and the people of Afghanistan.