US ‘looking into’ claims that Ashraf Ghani stole aid money

US 'looking into' claims that Ashraf Ghani stole aid money

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

Ghani is accused of stealing $169 million when he left Afghanistan as the Taliban neared Kabul. His abrupt departure allowed the radical group to take the Afghan capital two weeks before the chaotic final US troop pullout.

“We haven’t proven that yet. We’re looking into that, actually,” the longtime inspector general, John Sopko, said during a House hearing in response to a question from Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY).

“There are allegations, but not only with President Ghani. There are allegations with senior officials in their finance ministry, their central bank and a number of other ministries walking off with millions of dollars,” he said.

“But again, those are just allegations. We have not confirmed any of those yet.”

John F. Sopko
Inspector general John Sopko said the US is looking into the allegations made against Ghani.
Charles Dharapak, File/AP

The White House previously brushed off claims that Ghani stole US funds when he boarded 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 allegedly stealing the funds, which he has denied.

“Does the administration have a position on what should be done in regards to President Ghani and allegations of corruption?” the reporter asked.

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

“We’d defer to the U.N. on that. I don’t have any further comment from here,” she said.

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

“I don’t have any more information on what… the former president did when he fled the country,” she 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

The Afghan ambassador to Tajikistan, Mohammad Zahir Agbar, in August accused Ghani of a “betrayal” of his nation 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 another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” he claimed

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

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

In an August letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) wrote, “The United States must do everything in its power to seize any illicitly gained funds that were corruptly embezzled by President Ghani. If he diverted funds from their intended purposes, the U.S. should bring him to justice.”

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