The Guardian on September 4, 2013 released the following:
By: Associated Press in Kabul
“Interpol red notice issued for woman believed to have travelled to India after allegedly transferring funds to relatives’ accounts
Afghan police are trying to trace a bank employee suspected of transferring $1.1m (£700,000) from the bank’s coffers to the accounts of relatives.
Shokofa Salehi, 22, worked in the money transfer division at the headquarters of Azizi Bank in Kabul. She disappeared around two months ago, said Azizi’s chief executive, Inayatullah Fazli.
At least nine other people are believed to be involved in the case. “They are a mafia group,” Fazli alleged.
The revelations are another blow to Afghanistan’s banking sector, in which corruption has unravelled one major institution and there are ongoing security threats from militants and criminals.
An Interpol red notice – the equivalent of an international arrest warrant – says authorities are seeking Salehi, who had worked at the bank for three years, on charges of fraud and misusing her authority. Afghan officials believe she used fake documents under the name Samira to travel to India after transferring the money. Her current whereabouts are unknown.
Two suspects in the case have been detained in Dubai. General Aminullah Amarkhail, a senior Afghan police official, said counterparts in Dubai and India were assisting in the hunt for Salehi and the remaining suspects, one of whom is alleged to have invested $850,000 in several ventures in Dubai.
Amarkhail said Salehi’s parents, who are among the missing suspects, were believed to have returned to Kabul after travelling with their daughter to India.
Azizi Bank, which launched in 2006, has more than 1,500 employees, 20% of them female, and claims to play “a quiet but effective role in women’s emancipation and empowerment”. It boasts on its website that it is “the bank you can trust”.
Salehi’s alleged theft is small fry in comparison to past examples of corruption in Afghanistan’s banking sector. In 2010 regulators seized Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s largest lender, amid allegations of graft. Its bailout equated to more than 5% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, making it one of the largest banking failures in the world in relative terms.
An independent report described Kabul Bank as being run like a Ponzi scheme. Investigators said $861m in fraudulent loans had disappeared into the pockets of associates of the men behind the bank.
Banks in Afghanistan have also been targeted by criminal gangs and suicide bombers drawn to gatherings of government employees drawing or cashing their paychecks.”
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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