New Delhi: A new report by the US Government oversight authority on Afghanistan claims that Former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and his senior advisors did not flee the nation with millions in cash. The report published by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said Ghani fled barefoot, without the millions of dollars that he was accused of carrying before the Taliban takeover in August last year.
“The departure was so sudden that the president was barefoot, forcing Kochai (head of Presidential Protective Service, General Qaher Kochai) to find the president`s shoes. The president did not have time to get his passport,” one of the Afghanistan officials told SIGAR.
The report titled “Theft of Funds from Afghanistan: An Assessment of Allegations Concerning President Ghani and Former Senior Afghan Officials”, assesses the validity of these allegations. It found that some cash was taken from the grounds of the palace and loaded onto President Ghani`s evacuation helicopters, evidence indicates that this number did not exceed USD 1 million.
Most of this money was believed to have come from several Afghan government operating budgets normally managed at the palace. SIGAR also identified suspicious circumstances in which approximately USD 5 million in cash was accidentally left behind at the presidential palace. Some or all of this money likely belonged to President Ghani or the government of the United Arab Emirates.
It further says that the members of Presidential Protective Service divided the money after the helicopters departed but before the Taliban captured the palace.
The SIGAR report finds out that the hurries nature of their departure, the emphasis on passengers over cargo, the payload, the performace limitations of the helicopters and witnesses suggest that there was little more than USD 500,000 in cash on board the helicopters.
“Millions of additional dollars nearly made it on board, though some or all of this money may have been former President Ghani’s legitimately earned and declared money. That being said, it remains a strong possibility that significant amounts of U.S. currency disappeared from Afghan government property in the chaos of the Taliban takeover–including millions from the presidential palace and the NDS vault. Attempts to loot other government funds appear to have been common,” the report said.
Responding to the allegations of graft, Ashraf Ghani’s lawyer said the former President is immensely proud of his tenure as President of Afghanistan. He said accountability and transparency significantly and systematically increased during Ghani`s Presidency.
“President Ghani welcomes a full and comprehensive investigation of the Afghanistan government during his tenure, which he is confident will show that he acted with the utmost integrity during his time in office and through his departure last August,” the lawyer added.
(With ANI inputs)