Travel ban slapped on 150 Kabul Bank debtors; their assets frozen: AGO

Barely two weeks after President Ashraf Ghani issued an ultimatum to Kabul Bank debtors to clear their dues, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) on Monday announced that the government has issued travel ban on 150 debtors and frozen their assets.

On June 22, while chairing a meeting ofthe Kabul Bank Clearance Committee, President Ghaniset a one-week deadline for those debtors who have not yet cleared their dues.

President Ghani warned thatthe defaulters would be barred from leaving the country and referred to the AGO for legal prosecution.

“TheAGO has imposed travel ban on 150 defaulters of the Kabul Bank and their assets have been frozen,” AGO spokesman Basir Azizi said on Monday.

Formed three months ago on the basis of a presidential decree, Kabul Bank Clearance Committeehas been tasked to expedite inquiry into the high-profile case of Kabul Bank.

Formed three months ago on the basis of a presidential decree, Kabul Bank Clearance Committee has been tasked to expedite inquiry into the high-profile case of Kabul Bank

According to the committee report, a total of 228 million USD has been recovered so far. A total of 30 debtors have cleared their debt and 10 others have shown willingness to clear their debt as well.

The committee report claims that a number of debtors remain absconding and have been put on the “wanted list” of Interpol.

The story of Kabul Bank’s downfall, which was the largest banking service provider in Afghanistan with an extensive network of branches across the country, continues to be shrouded in mystery.

The premier bank of Afghanistan faced bankruptcy in 2010 following the embezzlement of at least 900 million USD. It was unarguably one the largest banking failures in the world.

Many high-profile government officials and shareholders of the bank were found directly and indirectly responsible for the crisis, but no action was taken against them.

Investigators said the bank – founded in 2004 by Sher Khan Farnood, a leading international poker player – issued hundreds of millions of dollars in inappropriate loans.

The bank was bailed out in September 2010, when the CBA took control of its finances. Abdul Qadir Fitrat, former governor of Central Bank of Afghanistan (CBA), was in charge of investigation.

Before fleeing the country, he had publicly named some high-profile figures in parliament who he said were allegedly involved in the fraud.

On day two of his presidency, President Ashraf Ghani ordered reinvestigation into the Kabul Bank fraud case. He instructed the AGO to oversee the arrest of individuals involved in the case

The names included Sher Khan Farnood, Chairman of Kabul Bank; Khalilullah Ferozi, Chief Executive Officer; Husain Fahim, brother of the then Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim; Mahmood Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai; Abdul Ghafar Dawi, Chief of Dawi Oil Company; Gulbahar Habibi, Chief of Gulbahar Center; Tahir Zahir and Sofi Nisar. 

On day two of his presidency, President Ashraf Ghani ordered reinvestigation into the Kabul Bank fraud case. He instructed the AGO to oversee the arrest of individuals involved in the case.

Mr. Farnood and Mr. Ferozi were considered the key culprits and were sentenced to 5 years in jail by a special court in Kabul. In addition, Mr. Ferozi was asked to pay 531 million USD and Mr. Farnood 278 million USD.

Mr. Karzai and Mr. Fahim, the two other influential people accused in the case, were given clean chit by the High Court. The court said they have already returned loan to the bank.

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