By Sanjeev Sharma
New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) Afghanistan’s exiled President Ashraf Ghani must be brought to justice and face criminal charges of embezzlement if he indeed fled the besieged country with duffle bags full of cash intended for the Afghan people, according to House Oversight Committee Republicans of the US.
Ghani hastily abandoned Afghanistan earlier this month as the Taliban marched to power. He turned up in the United Arab Emirates, which accepted the president on humanitarian grounds.
Fox News reported House Republicans are raising alarms over news reports that Ghani left Afghanistan with “duffle bags full of cash totaling $169 million.”
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, the lawmakers cite reports that “Ghani in fact had so much looted money with him when he fled Afghanistan that not all of it would fit in his helicopter and that he was forced to leave money lying on the tarmac.”
Rep James Comer, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, and Rep Glenn Grothman, R-Wis, sent letters Tuesday to both Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for a briefing no later than Aug 31 on whether Ghani is in possession of US taxpayer dollars and whether the US government is seeking criminal charges against him, Fox News reported.
“If true, this was not the dignified exit of a benevolent head of state, but that of a coward and grifter,” the lawmakers wrote to Blinken in a letter first obtained by Fox News. “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 US should bring him to justice.”
The lawmakers say corrupt foreign government officials cannot be permitted to personally enrich themselves with American money destined to safeguard the Afghan people.
“This is particularly the case where President Ghani’s reckless and cowardly actions likely contributed to the speed with which the Taliban took over the country and toppled the Afghan government,” they wrote.
By Sanjeev Sharma