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Senate criticizes inaction on ex-Finance Minister case

KABUL (TOLOnews): Senators in Afghanistan’s Meshrano Jirga (the upper house of parliament) criticized the Afghan government for its ambiguity towards the corruption case against the ex-minister of finance, Mohammad Humayun Qayoumi, who is accused of embezzling of 1.7 billion afs from an emergency funds allocation in the national budget.

Zalmay Zabuli, the head of the senate’s complaints commission said that there are serious allegations of corruption against Qayoumi, which include the embezzlement of 1.7 billion afs from “Code 91,” and illegal appointments at customs in several provinces.

Back in October 2019, the senate’s complaints commission had referred Qayoumi to the Attorney General’s Office following reports that Qayoumi had received a $255,000 salary from a private institute in the US in 2017.

At the time, Qayoumi was serving as the acting minister of finance and top adviser to President Ashraf Ghani.

Zabuli said that Ghani is “meddling” in the work of the legal and judicial institutions of the country and preventing them from addressing major corruption cases.

“Why are they doing such illegal things and interfering in the affairs of the parliament, when a minister is referred (to attorney general) with evidence to account for, the president himself gets involved in the case,” said Zalmay Zabuli, the head of parliament’s complaints commission.

“We should not politicize corruption cases, the president of Afghanistan firmly believes in the freedom of the legal and judicial institutions of the country when it comes to assessing corruption allegations,” said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.

But, the Attorney General Office says that no file has been lodged against Qayoumi within the body.

Last year, TOLOnews obtained documents showing that Qayoumi received a $255,000 salary from a private organization called the “Institute for State Effectiveness” in 2017. The organization was founded by President Ashraf Ghani in 2013, documents indicate.

“Pushing the case into limbo is against the law by anyone, those trying to make confusion in addressing the corruption cases must face legal action,” said Wahid Farzayee, a legal expert in Kabul.

“All evidence and documents were sent to the Attorney General and later on the documents went missing,” said Lailuma Wali, a member of parliament.

Available documents seen by TOLOnews indicate that the acting minister of finance–and top adviser to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani– Mohammad Humayun Qayoumi, received $450,000 from a California university in 2015, where he had served as president between 2011 and 2014.

These documents—along with others shown to Tolonews earlier in the month—reveal a number of different sources of income for Qayoumi. In fact, in 2016 he apparently held several positions simultaneously: in 2016 Qayoumi received a $270,000 salary from California State University, documents show.

Also in 2016, Qayoumi received a $105,000 salary from the US-based Institute For State Effectiveness, an organization of which President Ashraf Ghani is a founder, according to documents previously shown to Tolonews. Afghanistan Continues to be Plagued by Corruption:

This comes a week after Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan and described corruption as a major challenge for the country.

The UN envoy said that the impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major obstacle to fighting corruption in Afghanistan.

“Like so many countries, Afghanistan continues to be plagued by corruption, which corrodes the confidence of the population and the donor community, and fuels the ongoing conflict. In spite of progress made in previous years in anti-corruption reforms, this progress has slowed in the past year, with key institutional reforms being neglected, including the establishment of the all-too-important independent anti-corruption commission. Apparent impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major issue. Additional progress in the fight against corruption is therefore crucial as the 2020 Pledging Conference on Afghanistan approaches,” she said.

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