Kabul Bank Chiefs Name Afghan Leaders in Court
 
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Former Kabul Bank chairman Sherkhan Farnood on Wednesday accused President Hamid Karzai of using $20 million of the bank's funds for his presidential election bid, contributing to its near collapse in 2010.

Farnood made the accusation at a public court hearing in Kabul, also naming other leading officials including Afghan Minister of Finance Omar Zakhilwal and Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Daoudzai among those who dealt in corrupt practices.

Farnood claimed in his statement to the court that $20 million from the bank was given to Karzai for his electoral campaign in the 2009 presidential election.

Farnood appeared with the former Kabul Bank chief executive Khalilullah Ferozi and about 20 other former employees at the first open court on the bank's crisis.

They are accused of embezzling almost a billion dollars of deposits to pay off personal debts and transfer money abroad.

Farnood objected that the prosecutor did not mention Hassan Fahim, the brother of First Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, in the accusation of who had key roles in the crisis.

"Four people have a role in the bank's crisis: first Hassan Fahim, second Khalilullah Ferozi, the Attorney General, and the president himself," Farnood said.

"I want to say without fear that Hassan Fahim took $178 million from the bank," he added.

Ferozi said in his statement to the court that Farnood had not mentioned Mahmood Karzai, the brother of President Karzai.

"No one including Hassan Fahim, Mahmood Karzai, or I put pressure on Sherkhan to give shares to Mahmood Karzai. When he gave shares to Mahmood, we disagreed. But he said, 'No, we will use his brother's power'," Ferozi claimed.

Ferozi said that he is ready to pay $150 million and more if the court can prove that he embezzled this amount.

Farnood also accused Ferozi of giving $200,000 to Zakhilwal and $800,000 to Omar Daoudzai, who was then Karzai's chief of staff.

"You gave $200,000 to Zakhilwal and $800,000 to Daoudzai. I am ready to prove it," he said.

But Ferozi rejected the claims.

"Why would I give money to Zakhilwal? I would not give him one rupee," Ferozi said.

Farnood retaliated: "If I cannot prove it, I will cut off my hand."

The court closed without any resolution on the matter. Shamsul Rahman Shams, head of the Kabul Bank special court, saying that a second session was needed.

"Until we have clarity on all the issues, we cannot make a ruling," he said.

Kabul Bank was one of Afghanistan's biggest privately-owned banks but almost collapsed after management swindled $900 million from the bank. The crisis was averted only after a massive bailout from Afghanistan's Central Bank.

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