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Top Afghan banker faces charges over Kabul Bank

- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — The former head of the Afghan central bank who has fled to the United States will be prosecuted for his role in problems at Kabul Bank, the nation's largest private lender, the Afghan attorney general's office said Tuesday.

Abdul Qadir Fitrat and other officials at the central bank face allegations of failing to act on warnings about widespread corruption at Kabul Bank, which nearly collapsed last year because of mismanagement and questionable lending practices, Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari said.

He told reporters that an arrest warrant for Mr. Fitrat has been sent to Interpol and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to return him to Afghanistan for questioning.

Mr. Fitrat announced his resignation Monday after fleeing to the United States.

He said he and other bank officials charged with overseeing the nation's financial system were being made scapegoats while the Afghan government refused to charge politically connected individuals involved in hundreds of millions of dollars in questionable loans.

"Since I exposed the fraudulent practices on April 27 in parliament, I have received information about threats on my life," Mr. Fitrat told the Associated Press by telephone Monday from a hotel in Northern Virginia. "To date, there is no information of any credible plan to try and prosecute these suspects for the crimes they have allegedly committed."

Mr. Fitrat added that he has permanent resident status in the U.S. and would not be returning to Afghanistan.

The embattled Kabul Bank — now under the control of Afghanistan's central bank — has become a symbol of the country's cronyism and deep-rooted corruption.

The deputy attorney general said that Mr. Fitrat received several warnings from intelligence service and anti-corruption officials about irregularities at Kabul Bank.

"Instead, he wrote to the anti-corruption body that Kabul Bank was moving in the right course and that ... that there was no crisis to be worried about," Mr. Nazari said. "It, in itself, indicates involvement of the central bank governor with Kabul Bank authorities in the crisis. He did not take any precautionary steps."

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