Corruption exposed as Afghan bank chief flees
Last week I blogged on the subject of news items that bore. I could well have included Afghanistan in my list. News that bores, is news that never changes…ten years into the West’s Afghan adventure, ten years on from 9/11, the danger is that for the citizen, little changes in Afghanistan.
Well now something has happened that is not about “our boys”, not about the war, nor even about the Taliban or al-Qaeda. That something is the most extraordinary insight into the scale of corruption in Kabul and its direct link with President Hamid Karzai’s Western-backed Government.
A week ago, unnoticed in the world’s media, the Governor of the Afghan Central Bank fled the country in fear for his life. Today he is holed up in Northern Virginia. He has been tracked there by the FT who have spoken to him.
Abdul Qadeer Fitrat was appointed to head the bank in 2007. Mr Fitrat is a brave man. On the heels of the well known but perhaps by now “boring” story of the collapse of the Kabul Bank last September, Mr Fitrat appeared in Parliament in Kabul in April and read out a list of people who, he said, had benefited from Kabul Bank loans. His reading of this list of Kharzai cronies and other figures at the centre of Afghanistan’s burgeoning capitalist life, was broadcast on television.
It was after a run on the Kabul Bank last September that Mr Fitrat had seen to it that the entire management of the bank was replaced, declaring that the whole bank little more than a Ponzi scheme. It was a scheme, he said, from which well connected businessmen, Karzai relatives, and Afghan Ministers benefited.
When the Kabul Bank collapsed there were £900m in outstanding loans to these people – a mere £62m has ever been recovered. Mr Fitrat detailed these allegations on the floor of the Afghan Parliament. He tells the FT his life is in “imminent danger”.
‘These people will go unpunished, the ex-Governor has said.
“I have seen no co-operation from the law, ten months after the collapse,” he said.
To abuse Shakespeare, there is something rotten in the heart of Afghanistan. Mr Fitrat has dared to expose it. Now the very forces that are battling to sustain President Karzai and his crew, have had to assist in the flight and protection of the man once at the very heart of the financial governance of the “democratic Afghanistan” that Afghan, British, American, and other Nato forces have lost their lives trying to build.
Boring? Or is it time we explored the implication of the flight from Afghanistan of the Governor of the Afghan Central Bank “in fear for his life”?
Follow Jon Snow on Twitter: @jonsnowC4