US claims ‘investigation’ that Ashraf Ghani stole aid money

The US government inspector general in charge of investigating the misuse of aid in Afghanistan says he is “investigating” claims that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his subordinates stole millions of dollars before fleeing.

Ghani is accused of stealing $169 million after leaving Afghanistan as the Taliban near Kabul. His sudden departure allowed the radical group to capture the Afghan capital two weeks before the chaotic final US troop withdrawal.

“We haven’t proven it yet. We’re looking into that, in fact,” longtime Inspector General John Sopko said during a House hearing in response to a question from Representative Nicole Mallotakis (R-NY). .

“There are allegations, but not only with President Ghani. There are allegations against senior officials in his finance ministry, his central bank and several other ministries of running with millions of dollars,” he said.

“But then again, those are just allegations. We haven’t confirmed any of that yet.”

John F.  sopko
Inspector General John Sopko said the US was investigating the allegations against Ghani.
Charles Dharpak, File/AP

The White House had previously dismissed claims that Ghani stole US money while in a helicopter out of the country. He is now living in the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by a Voice of America reporter about Ghani’s alleged theft of funds, which she denies.

“What is the administration’s position on what should be done regarding President Ghani and the corruption allegations?” The reporter asked.

Psaki said the Biden administration would defer to the United Nations to review whether Ghani stole US money.

“We will adjourn the United Nations on that. I have no further comment from here,” she said.

Psaki told The Post during a press briefing in August that she was unaware whether the claim was true.

“I don’t have much information about what the former president did when he fled the country,” he said.

President Joe Biden, right, listens as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
President Joe Biden sits with Ashraf Ghani at the White House on June 25, 2021.
Susan Walsh / AP

In August the Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Mohammad Zahir Agbar, accused Ghani of “betraying” his country and said he had “taken $169 million with him.”

Nikita Ishchenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, alleged that Ghani had to leave some cash behind because it could not fit into his helicopter.

“Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff the other part of the money into the helicopter, but it all did not fit. And some of the money was lying on the tarmac,” he claimed.

House Committee on Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member Rep.  James Comer, R-Ky., speaks during a voting rights hearing in Texas on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
Representative James Comer wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding the allegations against Ghani.
Jacqueline Martin / AP

Ghani did not inform the US or key deputies before fleeing the country, leaving Afghan security forces in disarray and allowing the Taliban to enter Kabul unhindered.

In an August letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Reps James Comer (R-Ky.) and Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) wrote, “The United States is determined to confiscate any money illegally obtained in its own right.” Must do everything in power. Corruptly embezzled by President Ghani. If he uses the money for his intended purposes, America must bring him to justice.”

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