Watchdog Seeks Assessment of Ex-Officials Corruption Cases

The SIGAR chief called on the Afghan government to take action against important cases of corruption.

John Sopko, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has strongly criticized a move by the Afghan government to appoint one of the key masterminds behind the collapse of the old Kabul Bank to take charge of a government agency.

On June 1st, President Ashraf Ghani in a decree appointed Mahmoud Karzai as acting minister of urban development and land

“One of the masterminds behind the failure of the largest Afghan bank—Kabul Bank–is now currently under consideration to oversee a major Afghan government agency, if that is true, it seems that we are taking a step back and Afghanistan is step backwards, not step forward,” said John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The SIGAR chief called on the Afghan government to take action against important cases of corruption.

“…but some practical examples that we hope to see in the Afghan government’s efforts when we do this report (new SIGAR report on corruption) would include addressing the backlog of important corruption cases that the Afghan government is aware of, but has not done anything about it—and I would say just one example there has been on case sitting for over six years dealings with hundreds of millions of dollars lost of the US and Afghan government,” he said.

SIGAR also criticized the Afghan government for not taking practical action on 6,500 cases of corruption that have not been assessed.

“We hope we will see that the arrest, trial and imprisonment of powerful individuals engaging in corruption occurs on a regular basis,” Sopko said.

Seven months have passed since the former acting minister of housing Jawad Paikar was dismissed from his job over reports of misusing his official authority, but the presidential Palace so far has not said anything about the progress on his case.

SIGAR has frequently said that corruption poses serious threats to the efforts of the US and the international community for Afghanistan.

According to SIGAR, the Afghan government’s anti-graft policy has been only on paper.

“The lack of political will and the serious weakness that exists in terms of freedom of the legal and judicial institutions has blocked the way for the investigation of cases related to the ministers over the past ten years,” said Naser Taimoori, a researcher of Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA).

“Corruption has been institutionalized within the structure, it means that we cant summarize it within the working area of a minister or deputy minister, if we are supposed to investigate this issue, then we have to bring lots of these networks to justice,” said Mahdi Rasekh, a member of parliament.

The Attorney General of Afghanistan has so far not provided any details about the progress on corruption cases involving cabinet ministers.

The UN mission in Afghanistan has also raised concerns over corruption in Afghanistan.

Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, on Thursday briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan and described corruption as a major challenge for the country.

The UN envoy said that the impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major obstacle to fighting corruption in Afghanistan.

“Like so many countries, Afghanistan continues to be plagued by corruption, which corrodes the confidence of the population and the donor community, and fuels the ongoing conflict. In spite of progress made in previous years in anti-corruption reforms, this progress has slowed in the past year, with key institutional reforms being neglected, including the establishment of the all-too-important independent anti-corruption commission. Apparent impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major issue. Additional progress in the fight against corruption is therefore crucial as the 2020 Pledging Conference on Afghanistan approaches,” she said.

President Ashraf Ghani has repeatedly stated in the past that fighting corruption is among his top priorities.

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President Ashraf Ghani has repeatedly stated in the past that fighting corruption is among his top priorities.

Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, on Thursday briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan and described corruption as a major challenge for the country.

The UN envoy said that the impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major obstacle to fighting corruption in Afghanistan.

“Like so many countries, Afghanistan continues to be plagued by corruption, which corrodes the confidence of the population and the donor community, and fuels the ongoing conflict. In spite of progress made in previous years in anti-corruption reforms, this progress has slowed in the past year, with key institutional reforms being neglected, including the establishment of the all-too-important independent anti-corruption commission. Apparent impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major issue. Additional progress in the fight against corruption is therefore crucial as the 2020 Pledging Conference on Afghanistan approaches,” she said.

President Ashraf Ghani has repeatedly stated in the past that fighting corruption is among his top priorities.

Meanwhile, Warren L. Coats, the former head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed shock over the suspension of Qasim Rahimi, the deputy head of the Central Bank of Afghanistan.

He said that the dismissal has posed serious threats to gains the bank the made over the past two decades.

“I am shocked to learn yesterday that Mr. Rahimi has been fired from his position, it is illegally executed dismissal. This is a shocking setback for Central Bank’s dramatic progress over these years, I hope that the parliament and the judicial system will scrutinize this step and hopefully reverse it,” said Coats.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Council of the Rule of Law and Governance, led by President Ghani, has said that in the future no one will be hired within the Ministry of Finance unless the candidates pass an exam of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission.

“If this process is transferred to the Administrative Reforms Commission–and there is no intervention–we will support this process fully,” said Shafi Samim, an economic expert in Kabul.

“The Finance Ministry over the past five years had better privileges than other ministries; unfortunately the government was supporting this in the Finance Ministry,” said Yarbaz Hamidi, a member of parliament.

Last week NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also described corruption as a major issue in Afghanistan.

Watchdog Seeks Assessment of Ex-Officials Corruption Cases