Afghan banker: I have evidence of death plot

Former Afghan central bank chief, now wanted in Kabul, tells Al Jazeera he has evidence that his life was in danger.

Afghanistan central bank head

Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, the former governor of the Afghan central bank, has told Al Jazeera that he has evidence of a plot to kill him.

“I have credible evidence to suggest that my life was completely in danger, and the government was part of this plan” Fitrat said in an interview with Al Jazeera in Washington on Tuesday.

“I can boldly say this … and I learned this from a number of sources; I cannot be more specific, but those sources are credible, and also a section of the international community were also aware of my situation.”

Fitrat’s comments come just hours after Rahmatullah Nazari, Afghanistan’s deputy attorney general, said that Fitrat and other officials at the central bank faced prosecution for not acting on warnings about widespread corruption at Kabul Bank.

The bank was taken over last year by Afghanistan’s central bank after claims that executives had granted themselves off-the-book loans worth a reported $900m that were partly used to buy luxury properties in Dubai.

Nazari said that the arrest warrant for Fitrat had been sent to Interpol and the US embassy in Kabul, calling for Fitrat to be returned to Afghanistan for questioning.

Separately, Waheed Omar, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said Fitrat had not notified the government of his resignation.

In response, Fitrat told Al Jazeera that despite being extremely careful in the wording of his resignation, the Afghan government’s “harsh” reaction to his announcement had forced him to conclude that “government was planning to discredit me, eliminate me and my voice”.

‘Stolen deposits’

“The government, and particularly the president, knew that I knew a lot of facts about how they stole public depositors money [including] the deposits of small Afghans, farmers, carpenters … that they [had] saved in Kabul Bank … they [the government] had used that money for political campaigns and they knew I had evidence for that”

“I requested [for] an investigation into those responsible and the president himself stalled this investigation, time and again,” he added.

When pressed to elaborate, he declined to disclose how the public or the media might access the evidence he had alluded to duing the course of the interview. 

Fitrat announced his resignation from his position on Monday, citing threats to his life for leading an investigation into the scandal surrounding the Kabul Bank. 

In April, Fitrat named prominent figures who were allegedly involved in the scandal at the bank. Fitrat alleged that Mahmood Karzai, the president’s brother and a former shareholder of the bank, had taken out $22m and Hassin Fahim another $78m.

Haji Khalil Ferzoi, who had been the financial adviser during Karzai’s re-election campaign, had taken out $66.9m, Fitrat said.

Following Fitrat’s resignation, Mahmood Karzai told Al Jazeera that Fitrat had no reason to feel threatened and that “it is a shame that in Afghanistan, once accused of corruption, people can simply go overseas and claim that their life is under threat.”

Alleged conspiracy

Ramazan Bashardost, an Afghan MP and a former presidential candidate, said Fitrat’s flight to the US was on account of covering up an alleged conspiracy.

Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Mujib Mashal, he alleged that Fitrat had allowed the irregularities despite the bank being audited twice every year.

“Surely he knew and let it happen … I think he left Afghanistan with an understanding with others involved in the mess – that if he remained in the country, he would be forced to expose other names that he has so far resisted on,” Bashardost said.

Corruption, bad loans and mismanagement cost the politically well-connected Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s biggest private lender, hundreds of millions of dollars in what Western officials in Afghanistan openly call a classic Ponzi scheme.

The bank doled out nearly half a billion dollars in unsecured, undocumented loans to a roster of Kabul’s elite,
including ministers, relatives of the president, a vice president, and a powerful former warlord, anti-corruption officials say.

The scandal has endangered future support for Afghanistan through the International Monetary Fund.

Last week, talks between Kabul and the IMF appeared to have broken down after Afghanistan’s finance minister Omar Zakhilwal called them a “waste of my time.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies