Ex-Afghan president Ghani refused questioning about ‘stolen’ money


Ashraf Ghani continues to be performing just like the president of Afghanistan, not less than on Fb.

From his exile within the United Arab Emirates — the place he landed after fleeing the presidential palace as Taliban forces swarmed Kabul on August 15, 2021 — Ghani provides interviews on democracy and doles out diplomatic greetings to his greater than 2.8 million social media followers.

Whereas the 73-year-old has bemoaned Afghanistan’s “very unhealthy state of affairs in historical past,” he has carried out little to set the file straight about his personal controversial flight from his homeland, in line with a congressional oversight panel.

The Workplace of the Particular Inspector Normal for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has spent the final 12 months investigating allegations that greater than $160 million was loaded onto helicopters that carried Ghani, his spouse and a few of his aides to an Uzbekistan city on the Afghan border as his authorities collapsed.

The allegations had been first made by the Russian embassy in Kabul and the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, who accused the previous chief of spiriting $169 million in money in another country.

Ghani fled Afghanistan on Aug. 15, 2021, when the Taliban took over.

Whereas investigators didn’t discover proof that the money was loaded onto the helicopters throughout the chaotic flights from Kabul, it has raised different questions concerning the alleged plunder of tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} from Afghan authorities coffers.

Ghani, who has repeatedly denied stealing any money, refused a request to be interviewed by SIGAR officers throughout the probe, and would solely reply questions by means of his Washington, DC, legal professional, in line with “Theft of Funds from Afghanistan: An Evaluation of Allegations Regarding President Ghani and Former Senior Afghan Officers.” The report was launched Tuesday, August 9.

Investigators despatched 56 written inquiries to Ghani by means of Reid Weingarten, a former federal prosecutor who focuses on white-collar felony protection, in March. On July 28, SIGAR acquired solutions to solely six of these questions, the report says.

Ghani and his wife, Rula, left the country by helicopter, eventually settling in Dubai.
Ghani and his spouse, Rula, left the nation by helicopter, finally settling in Dubai.
Getty Pictures

“Ghani doesn’t come off too nicely, having stonewalled SIGAR,” stated Michael Rubin, a senior fellow on the American Enterprise Institute and an knowledgeable on the Center East. “That doesn’t odor proper, and mainly it’s not a great look.”

The previous president’s lawyer in Washington, DC, didn’t return requests for remark.

Investigators additionally be aware that they had been hamstrung of their probe as a result of they needed to rely closely on eyewitness testimony moderately than on documentary proof “as a result of undeclared money leaves no paper path.” To make issues much more tough, all of their sources requested anonymity, and a few former senior authorities officers refused to reply any questions.

“Lots of the officers ready to witness the alleged theft of cash had been alleged by others to have stolen it,” the report says.

He continues to give interviews on diplomacy.
Ghani continues to provide interviews on diplomacy.
AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Nonetheless, after interviewing greater than 30 Afghan officers who labored within the workplace of the president, and Afghanistan’s safety companies, SIGAR discovered that some money was faraway from the presidential palace on August 15, 2021, and loaded onto three helicopters that spirited Ghani and members of his entourage out of Kabul. However investigators consider that the quantity was no more than $1 million and “could have been nearer in worth to $500,000.”

In October 2021, a former bodyguard to Ghani claimed that CCTV footage existed displaying an “particular person on the Afghan Financial institution introduced some huge cash to Ghani earlier than he left. A whole bunch of hundreds of thousands, maybe billions of {dollars} … This cash was imagined to be for the foreign money alternate market,” Brig. Gen. Piraz Ata Sharifi alleged to the Every day Mail. “Every Thursday, the {dollars} had been introduced for that objective. As a substitute, it was taken by the president” earlier than he left.

Earlier than changing into president, Ghani labored for the World Financial institution and acquired as much as $360,000 a 12 months from the Institute for State Effectiveness, a nonprofit funded partially by billionaire George Soros.

Before becoming president of Afghanistan, Ghani worked for a non-profit funded in part by billionaire George Soros (above).
Earlier than changing into president of Afghanistan, Ghani labored for a nonprofit funded partially by billionaire George Soros (above).
AFP by way of Getty Pictures

The report notes that $5 million was allegedly left behind within the president’s residence — funds that Ghani stated he and his spouse had amassed from the sale of properties in Lebanon and the US earlier than he first grew to become president in September 2014, his lawyer informed SIGAR. The money was destined for a nonprofit to assist Afghans.

Throughout his chaotic departure from Kabul, unnamed sources informed investigators that Ghani barely had time to gather himself. “The departure was so sudden that the president was barefoot, forcing [General Qaher] Kochai to search out the president’s sneakers,” stated the report, referring to the top of the Afghan President’s Protecting Service. “The president didn’t have time to get his passport.”

“The chaos had turn out to be so intense that each minute we’d hear {that a} sure district of Kabul had fallen to the Taliban,” a former senior official informed investigators concerning the Sunday in August that signaled the tip of Ghani’s rule.

In fleeing the presidential palace, the situation was so hurried and chaotic that Ghani did not even have time to grab his passport.
In fleeing the presidential palace, the state of affairs was so hurried and chaotic that Ghani didn’t even have time to seize his passport.
AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Nationwide safety adviser Hamdullah Mohib and Kochai “feared that the PPS [President’s Protective Service] guards — sensing the tide turning — may execute Ghani, so Mohib, Kochai and a driver tried to discreetly take the president to the touchdown zone in a single automotive. The president’s motorcade accompanied them anyway.”

Ghani and his spouse, Rula, had been bundled right into a helicopter with three others, in line with a supply. The primary girl had two suitcases “as she had time to pack for a visit to the UAE.” Witnesses informed investigators that the previous first girl’s suitcases contained garments. not money.

“The problem of what he carried with him on his remaining flight misses the mark,” Rubin informed The Put up. “He [Ghani] doubtless squirreled away a number of cash prematurely for a wet day. Presumably, he’s additionally a silent investor in some companies and continues to gather these dividends.”

"The chaos had become so intense that every minute we would hear that a certain district of Kabul had fallen to the Taliban,” a former senior official told investigators of the last day.
“The chaos had turn out to be so intense that each minute we’d hear {that a} sure district of Kabul had fallen to the Taliban,” a former senior official informed investigators of the final day.
AFP by way of Getty Pictures

Corruption has lengthy been rampant in Afghanistan, with allegations of presidency officers spending lavishly from government-controlled “slush funds” and spiriting money from overseas improvement and navy assist in another country.

SIGAR centered on two authorities contingency budgets — “slush funds disbursed with minimal oversight,” often known as Code 91 and Code 92, which the president “sometimes managed.” SIGAR famous that the funds totaled almost $200 million in 2021.

“In accordance with Integrity Watch Afghanistan, abuse of those funds began below the administration of former president Hamid Karzai however worsened below Ghani,” the report says. When requested concerning the funds, Ghani’s legal professional stated that, in February 2020, Ghani had established a committee “to boost oversight and transparency of funds used from Code 91 and Code 92.”

Official say four years before Ghani became president, corruption was so rampant in Afghanistan that by 2010, it's estimated that cash totaling more than $1 billion a year was stolen from the country.
Official say 4 years earlier than Ghani grew to become president, corruption was so rampant in Afghanistan that by 2010, it’s estimated that money totaling greater than $1 billion a 12 months was stolen from the nation.
Getty Pictures

Ghani, a finance minister in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2004, informed SIGAR by means of his lawyer that he didn’t recall any bulk money transfers and that “the potential for such transfers appears implausible.”

However for years, bulk money transfers had been spirited in another country by corrupt authorities officers, in line with studies. In 2010, 4 years earlier than Ghani grew to become president, the Washington Put up, citing US and Afghan officers, estimated that money totaling greater than $1 billion a 12 months “movement[ed] principally to the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai, the place many rich Afghans now park their households and funds.”

“A million {dollars} a day was leaving Kabul worldwide airport for Dubai,” stated Thomas Johnson, a analysis professor on the Nationwide Safety Affairs Division on the Naval Postgraduate Faculty in Monterey who has greater than 30 years’ expertise in Afghanistan. “Anybody who is aware of Ghani and Afghanistan is aware of he was a fraud and intensely corrupt.”

Despite the Taliban takeover, Ghani has said he hopes to return to Afghanistan.
Regardless of the Taliban takeover, Ghani has stated he hopes to return to Afghanistan.
AFP/Getty Pictures

Johnson, who informed The Put up he had spoken to senior Afghan authorities officers who had been current throughout the fall of Ghani’s authorities, stated that shortly after Ghani took energy in Afghanistan, he surrounded himself with “sure males” who wouldn’t dare query something he did.

Now, Johnson believes that Ghani is “dwelling a millionaire’s life in Dubai” the place leaders allowed him to enter on humanitarian grounds.

He informed CNN in a Sunday interview that he “very a lot” hoped to return to Afghanistan in some unspecified time in the future.

Ghani, who has a PhD in anthropology from Columbia College and co-wrote the 2008 e book “Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World,” additionally posted an “unique” interview in Persian on Fb final week, titled “The autumn of democracy, its causes and penalties.”

“The UAE initially accepted Ghani on the situation he stay silent,” stated Rubin. “Ghani, nonetheless, has all the time relished consideration. Silence is tough for him. He tends to say more and more outlandish issues to get consideration, and this may finally be embarrassing for the Emiratis.”

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