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Ex-Kabul Bank CEO criticizes govt’s handling of funds recovery

KABUL (TOLOnews): Former CEO of the Kabul Bank, Khalilullah Frozi, says that he has paid a big portion of his debts to the government following the bankruptcy of the bank in 2011.

Frozi, who is accused of playing a major role in the Kabul Bank crisis, was arrested in 2011 and was released due to an illness on August 14, 2019. He has been under house arrest since then.

Talking to TOLOnews, Frozi said that he has paid $17 million to the government along with properties “worth millions.”

“We have paid a portion of the money–$17 million. We have handed over the Dosti township that was our property and the government has sold it for Afs600 million ($7.8 million),” Frozi said, adding that he has also given to the government properties such as “16 jeribs (7.9 acres) of land on the Airport Road, 7 jeribs (3.4 acres) of land in Makrorayan area (in Kabul), 50 jeribs (24.7 acres) of land in Karte Naw (area in Kabul), and two jeribs (0.9 acres) of land near Poland’s embassy.”

In 2015, President Ghani ordered that Frozi should serve out his full 10 years in prison and pay his court-ordered fine of $137 million. Kabul Bank, once Afghanistan’s largest financial institution, collapsed in 2010 after reports of embezzlement of at least $912 million.

In November 2015, the government launched the ‘Smart City Township’ Project in which Frozi was a shareholder. The aim of the project was to help the debtors of Kabul Bank repay their debt instead of being imprisoned. However, Ghani canceled the contract in February 2016.

The bank was established in 2004. It was bankrupted in 2010 and was reestablished in 2011 as New Kabul Bank.

Frozi criticized the way the government has handled the process of debtors paying restitution back to Kabul Bank. But he did not provide details on how much of the money has been returned.

“The Gulbahar Center (a shopping mall and residential apartments in downtown Kabul) is ours. It was mine and (Sherkhan) Farnood’s. We were jailed and its deed was given (to others). He (Gulbahar Center’s owner) owes $70 million to us, but he denies it now,” Frozi added.

Frozi said that some are trying to benefit from the Kabul Bank case by creating delays.

“Ten years have passed, right? And they will delay it for another ten years because it is in their interest as they are working there (in clearance department) and are on (the government) payroll,” he said.

Despite being an independent authority, the Kabul Bank Clearance Department chief Rohullah Habib did not provide information on debts of the bank, saying they are not allowed to give details regarding this matter without approval from the state-owned Central Bank.

“The government has treated the Kabul Bank’s financial and judicial affairs politically. The main perpetrators who had political influence were not sued,” said Nasir Taimuri, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

“Information is limited in an institution that has not worked properly,” said Ainuddin Bahaduri, head of the access-to-information commission, referring to the clearance department’s denial to provide information about the Kabul Bank case.

According to Frozi, his 10-year imprisonment will end next month.

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