Continued from page 1

Kabul Bank initiated this change for itself,” Mr. Fitrat said. “The central bank has not taken over Kabul Bank, and it was purely a Kabul Bank decision, which was approved by the central bank. Of course, we welcome this decision. This is a positive move.”

Mr. Fitrat would not confirm whether the central bank was probing the bank’s lending practices.

“We will always investigate any irregularities in any bank whenever we receive reports,” he said.

News reports said Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, attended a meeting about a month ago in which the governor of the central bank gave President Karzai evidence of illicit activities at Kabul Bank. Mr. Fitrat said he couldn’t discuss the activities of Mr. Karzai or Gen. Petraeus.

Maj. Joel Harper, a spokesman for the military coalition in Kabul, issued a statement, saying, “This is an action we believe is being addressed competently by the governor of the central bank and the president of Afghanistan.”

Associated Press Writer Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.