Kabul Bank began as ‘Ponzi scheme’: Audit
Afghan and American officials had for years promoted Kabul Bank as a prime example of how Western-style banking was transforming a war-ravaged economy. But the audit, prepared this year for Afghanistan’s central bank by the Kroll investigative firm, gives new details of how the bank instead was institutionalizing fraud that reached into hundreds of millions of dollars and obliterated Afghans’ trust after regulators finally seized the bank in August 2010 and the theft was revealed.
Going further than previous reports, the audit asserts that Kabul Bank had little reason to exist other than to allow a narrow clique tied to President Hamid Karzai’s government to siphon riches from depositors, who were the bank’s only substantial source of revenue.
At one point, Kroll’s investigators found 114 rubber stamps for fake companies used to give forged documents a more legitimate look. And the auditing firms used by the bank never took issue with loan books that were “almost entirely fraudulent,” Kroll found, recommending that the Afghan government explore suing the last such auditor, A F Ferguson & Co., a private Pakistani firm with a franchise under PricewaterhouseCoopers.
When Afghan regulators, aided by US officials, first discovered the extent of the fraud at the
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