Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fools Errand in Afghanistan: $861 Million Spirited Out of Country

Warlords, constant civil strife and utter corruption and graft have been the way of life in Afghanistan for centuries, if not several millennium.  These facts ought to have been apparent to anyone who bothered to make the slightest amount of due diligence before throwing billions of dollars and thousands of American lives down a proverbial rat hole.  Such minimal due diligence would be expecting too much from the cretinous George W. Bush, the power mad Dick Cheney and the hubris filled senior American military leadership.  The examples of the magnitude of America's fools errand in Afghanistan just continue to grow despite the disingenuous, face saving lies and bullshit by the senior military leadership and politicians who refuse to admit that they made a huge and deadly error.  The Virginia Pilot is reporting today that $861 million in foreign aid/loans was spirited out of Afghanistan by corrupt Afghan bankers and officials.  Realistically, the amounts of money stolen is likely much higher. Here are highlights:

Hundreds of millions of dollars from Kabul Bank were spirited out of Afghanistan - some smuggled in airline food trays - to bank accounts in more than two dozen countries, according to an independent review released on Wednesday about massive fraud that led to the collapse of the nation's largest financial institution.

The report, which was financed by international donors, offers new details about how the men at Kabul Bank and their friends and relatives got rich off $861 million in fraudulent loans in what the International Monetary Fund has called a Ponzi scheme that used customer deposits and operated under nascent banking oversight in the war-torn country.

The report describes Kabul Bank as a sophisticated operation with one set of books for the eyes of regulators and another in the back room that logged how those running the bank and others were fattening their wallets.

Loans were made, but rarely repaid. Borrowers took out loans to pay back loans. Company documents and financial statements were fabricated. The bank's credit department used more than 100 corporate stamps for fake companies to make documents look authentic. The bank operated some of its more than 100 branches without a permit from the government.

The 87-page report, which was conducted to satisfy one of several benchmarks the IMF asked the Afghan government to meet in cleaning up the scandal, points to poor oversight by Afghan banking regulators, political interference in the criminal investigation and activities by a special judicial tribunal hearing the case that it said were "well outside the legal norms of criminal procedure."

The Kabul Bank scandal is a saga about money-grabbing, weak banking oversight, lax prosecution, nepotism, political contributions and fraud. The cast of characters includes a poker-playing bank chairman, an Afghan central bank chairman who feared his life was endangered and fled to the U.S., the wealthy brothers of the Afghan president and vice president, and bank shareholders - some who bought posh properties in Dubai and spent lavishly on themselves and their circle of friends and relatives.

There's much more in the lengthy story and little of it is good.  Meanwhile, another American has lost his life in this fiasco:

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  Cpl. Christopher M. Monahan Jr., 25, of Island Heights, N.J., died Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

When will the American public demand that this idiocy stop?  And if the congressional GOP is serious about cutting the budget deficit, an immediate end to all funding for Afghanistan would be a good starting point. 

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