US tightens grip on much-needed Afghan funds, blames audit: Reuters
The US Treasury claims that the audit into Afghanistan's Central Bank showed "inadequacy" despite not disclosing the audit data to the public.
The United States conditioned that in order for Afghanistan to access its sovereign funds previously frozen in Switzerland, the US-destroyed country must replace current officials in charge of the central bank with "professional bankers" and introduce financial "reforms", Reuters reported on Friday citing senior US Treasury officials.
Following an American-funded audit of the country's central bank, Washington decided not to allow the return of $3.5 billion belonging to Afghanistan, which are frozen based on US orders in a Geneva-based trust fund.
The results of the audit were not released nor disclosed, sparking criticism over the transparency of the decision that will critically affect the country, while some experts considered that this proves that Washington's move is politically driven and not based on concrete facts.
The United States has prohibited Afghanistan's access to $7 billion dollars of its foreign assets, half of which were seized by the US Federal Reserve while the rest is frozen in a Swiss account. US President Joe Biden has been making efforts since to illegally hand over half of the frozen funds in New York out to 9/11 American victims.
Following Biden's attempts, the Taliban slammed Washington's measures describing them as theft, saying that they exhibit the moral decline of the United States.
"The theft of blocked money belonging to the people of Afghanistan by the United States, as well as taking possession of it, is a showcase of the human and moral decline of the country and people," a spokesperson for the Taliban political office said then.
Restrictions on the funds were imposed in August 2021, the day the Taliban entered Kabul concurrently with the hasty withdrawal of US occupation forces from Afghanistan.
Da Afghan Bank DAB (central bank) must show that it is free "from political influence and interference," said a Treasury official. DAB must also show that it has "adequate" governance to prevent money laundering and financing of "terrorism", as well as install a "reputable" independent monitor.
"Our assessment of DAB remains unchanged,” said one of the US officials.
Saying that the latest audit is a "preliminary assessment", the Treasury official said its "limitations" suggested that "more comprehensive third-party assessment efforts may be needed."
Shah Mehrabi, an Afghan-American economics professor who chairs DAB's Audit Committee and co-chairs the Afghan Fund board, stated that the audit - which he has seen - was completed last March and is currently with the US State Department.
The audit results will be taken into consideration once they are disclosed, Mehrabi and his co-chair, Anwar ul-Haq Ahady, a former DAB governor and former finance minister, told Reuters.
Millions of Afghan families are struggling to survive due to severe shortages in food and basic necessities fueled by an economic crash and a humanitarian crisis, provoked by the United States imposed global isolation on the impoverished nation.
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai revealed to The Washington Post last year that the United States was directly involved in the corruption in the country, admitting that he also was part of it.
"[I take] full responsibility for the corruption and bribes in the delivery of services… But the big contracts, big corruption, in hundreds of millions of dollars or millions of dollars, was clearly a United States of America thing," Karzai told the newspaper.