Attorney General Issues Travel Ban, Freezes Assets of 150 Kabul Bank Defaulters

The Office of the Attorney General on Monday announced that the government has issued travel bans for 150 Kabul Bank debtors and frozen their assets. Their properties are expected to be auctioned off after a court order goes through.

The announcement comes after the expiration of the deadline President Ashraf Ghani issued to those who owed money in the wake of the Kabul Bank crash. The Kabul Bank faced a depositor crisis after journalists exposed a large-scale embezzlement scheme by some of the bank’s top executives in 2010. Since taking office, President Ghani has pursued legal action against those involved in the scandal – from top to bottom – in a fashion that his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, declined to do.

“On the basis of the court ruling, the Attorney General’a Office recently slapped a travel ban on 150 defaulters of the Kabul Bank and their assets have been frozen,” Attorney General spokesman Basir Azizi said on Monday.

The Kabul Bank case has captured the attention of the international community and the Afghan public alike, seemingly illustrating the depth of Afghanistan’s corruption woes.

“We hope that it is seriously dealt with and that those debtors to the Kabul Bank repay the money,” Afghanistan Integrity Watch head Ekram Afzali told TOLOnews.

According to reports, among the total number of debtors, 20 of them have paid back the money they owe, while the primary shareholders, including Mahmoud Karzai (the former president’s brother), Gul Bahar Habibi, Hussain Fahim, Ghulam Dawoud Nasir, Mohammad Anwar Jagdalak, Mohammad Tahir Zahir, Mahboob Forotan, Mohammad Ismail Ghazanfar and Hajji Amrullah have yet to pay.

According to legal authorities, the assets of those large shareholders have been unfrozen because they have pledged to repay all that they owe.

Over the past three months, the Afghan government has successfully recuperated 279 million USD lost in the scandal via sales of assets belonging to key perpetrators.

Accounting for the interest rate discount afforded to the debtors by former president Karzai, so far, a grande total of about 438 million USD has been recovered. That number represents just under half of the 987 million USD stolen from the Kabul Bank.

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