By DEB RIECHMANN
KABUL, Afghanistan – The former governor of the Afghan central bank who fled the country will be prosecuted for his alleged role in the failure of the nation’s largest private lender, the Afghan attorney general’s office said Tuesday.
Abdul Qadir Fitrat and other officials at the central bank face prosecution for not acting on warnings about widespread corruption at Kabul Bank, which nearly collapsed last year because of mismanagement and questionable lending practices, said Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari.
He told reporters that an arrest warrant for Fitrat has been sent to Interpol and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to return Fitrat to Afghanistan for questioning.
The troubled Kabul Bank – now under the control of Afghanistan’s central bank – has become a symbol of the country’s cronyism and deep-rooted corruption. The lender is now considered a bellwether on attempts to root out patronage and show accountability to world financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund.
The deputy attorney general said that Fitrat received several warnings from the nation’s intelligence service and anti-corruption officials about widespread irregularities at Kabul Bank.
“Instead, he wrote to the anti-corruption body that Kabul Bank was moving in the right course and that the bank was not facing any financial threats – that there was no crisis to be worried about,” Nazari said. “It, in itself, indicates involvement of the central bank governor with Kabul Bank authorities in the crisis. He did not take any precautionary steps.”
On Monday, Fitrat told The Associated Press in a phone call from Virginia that he resigned and fled to the United States because threats had been made on his life. He said the Karzai government was refusing to charge those involved in fraudulent loans.
“My life has become completely endangered,” Fitrat said. “Since I exposed the fraudulent practices on April 27 in parliament I have received information about threats on my life.”
He said he has permanent resident status in the United States and would not return to Afghanistan.
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