KABUL May 29 A failed Afghan bank doled out
nearly half a billion dollars in unsecured, undocumented loans
to a roster of Kabul's elite, including sitting cabinet
ministers and a powerful former warlord, anti-corruption
officials said on Sunday.
Azizullah Luddin, chairman of the High Office of Oversight
and Anti-corruption, also said that records suggested the
government would only be able to get back around two thirds of
Kabulbank's $925 million in outstanding loans.
"We are sure that $347 million will be paid back which we
have no worries about," he told a news conference to release the
findings of a report detailing the bank's woes.
"Other borrowers have properties in Dubai and in Kabul and
in case they aren't able to pay back, we can get $200-$250
millions by selling them...So we can get back a possible total
of around $600 million," he added.
The bank, whose major shareholders had close family ties to
Afghanistan's leadership, came to the brink of collapse last
year and was taken over by the Central Bank.
The Afghan government has since pledged to dismantle it, to
meet International Monetary Fund requirements on financial
standards, but progress has been very slow.
Ludin said three or four sitting cabinet ministers, several
MPs and Abdul Rashid Dostum, a power broker and former warlord,
were among the names on a list of debtors who had evaded usual
banking standards to secure a loan.
"$467 million dollars has been paid out without any
documents or any guarantees or papers," Ludin said.
"We might be able to get back large amount of this money
because we have prepared a list of 207 borrowers," he said.
Dostum owed around $1 million to the bank, he added,
But both Ludin and Yasin Usmani, chairman of the
Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, placed most
of the blame for Kabulbank's failure at the door of the Central
Bank, rather than with Kabulbank's owners and top managers.
These include Mahmoud Karzai, brother of President Hamid
Karzai, and Mohammad Haseen, brother of the deputy president.
Ludin said Afghanistan's intelligence agency had warned the
Central Bank months ago there were major problems in Kabulbank's
finances, but had been told that it was not their business.
Individuals in the financial sector also tried to raise a
red flag with the auditors, Usmani said.
"We blame the Central Bank because their monitoring was very
weak," he said, adding that he thought all private banks in
Afghanistan needed more rigorous checks.
The 30-page report, which Ludin waved around during the news
conference, has been delivered to President Karzai and the
Attorney General. They will decide whether to release it to the
public and whether to pursue any prosecution, he said.
The tangled state of the bank's finances was evident even at
the news conference, where officials gave figures $13 million
apart for the total amount of loans outstanding.
They later explained the higher figure came from an updated
calculation of interest due. But other figures for the amounts
repaid and still outstanding, and summaries of different types
of loan, had discrepancies of several million dollars.
(Editing by Nick Macfie)