Image via WikipediaAs NATO foreign ministers gathered in Bonn last week to discuss the way forward in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai gave an interview to SPIEGEL about how much international involvement will be required following the 2014 withdrawal and about his rocky partnership with the United States. The interview was conducted by Matthias Gebauer and Christoph Reuter and touched on corruption in Afghanistan, specifically on the Bank of Kabul. Excerpts:
SPIEGEL: In the largest financial scandal of Afghanistan, surrounding the virtually bankrupt Bank of Kabul, your family too would seem to be involved. We have seen a protocol from former central bank head Abdul Qadir Fitrat who, in the presence of your brother, made clear that the bank was little more than a criminal organization and was close to collapse. It provided loans to fictitious companies and straw men. The bank managers invested in huge villas in Dubai. Why did nothing happen for a full year?
Karzai: We called in Fitrat and asked him and said we are hearing that there is something going wrong, but he said no. The Americans never told us about this. The bank didn’t tell us.
SPIEGEL: But once the problems became apparent, why did your government prevent an audit of the bank by foreign experts?
Karzai: We believed a certain embassy was trying to create financial trouble for us. We felt the whole bank scam was created by foreign hands.
SPIEGEL: Which embassy?
Karzai: I will not go into details.
This is the same guy who wants $5 billion a year from the United States until 2024. He must think that’s a nice round bargain considering that we are going to spend $6.5 billion a year for the US Mission in Iraq after the military pulls out.