Economy & Development

AAN Podcasts: Martine van Bijlert talks Kabul Bank


Kabul Bank: glitzy facade, foul credits. Photo: ToloNews

Kabul Bank: glitzy facade, foul credits. Photo: ToloNews

Regular visitors to the AAN website will have noticed that we have added an additional channel to our publications: podcasts. Although we already posted some podcasts earlier on (visit the archive here), you will be able to literally hear from us more regularly, from now on. We start our new podcast series with a comment by AAN co-director Martine van Bijlert on the Kabul Bank case. So please tune in.

The re-opening of the unresolved Kabul Bank case was one of the first and potentially most spectacular steps of new Afghan president Ashraf Ghani immediately after he was inaugurated. It was an attempt to signal that he is serious about his reform programme, including the fight against corruption. The Kabul Bank case broke in 2010, when it was disclosed that over 900 million USD of Afghanistan’s largest private bank’s assets were missing. Following Goldman Sachs and the Euro crisis, Afghanistan now had its own banking scandal, bringing the country’s economy close to breakdown. Only bailouts with additional foreign money, with a lot of what really happened swept under the carpet, prevented a chain reaction that could have pushed other Afghan banks and sectors of the economy into collapse.

Under the Karzai government most of the blame was put on two – not so innocent – scapegoats: the two leading managers of the bank who received prison sentences that were confirmed by the appeals court in November. (For more detail on the assigning and deflecting of blame, see this reporting). The court also recently ordered the freezing of the assets of those individuals and companies who had profited most from foul loans – a decision that has been long overdue. The list of those affected can be found in this Afghan media report. There are, however, indications that this government may well decide to leave the shareholders alone, like the previous government did, as long as it looks like they have repaid their loans.

Ghani’s step to reopen the case was symbolically important – but does not yet go far enough, AAN’s Martine van Bijlert argues in this podcast: For now, all that has happened is that the existing court case has been finalised. And like she says, it is refreshing indeed to have a government that at least wants to be seen to act, but it’s still too early to be very optimistic. The so-called reopening of the case has not yet breached new ground.

Listen to AAN’s new Kabul Bank podcast here.

 

Earlier dispatches and publications on the Kabul Bank issue:

• New probe into the Kabul Bank scandal an important symbolic act, Martine van Bijlert’s interview with Deutsche Welle (German international radio), 2 October 2014, here.

• The Kabul Bank Tribunal: an exercise in containment, by Martine van Bijlert, 9 March 2013, here.

• The Rise and Fall of the Kabul Bank – making the details public, by AAN Team, 27 November 2012, here.

• Kabul Bank scandal threatens Afghan stability, US relations, Martine van Bijlert’s interview with Voice of America, 28 June 2011, here.

• The IMF, Kabul Bank, government salaries and transition, by Martine van Bijlert, 20 June 2011, here.

• The Kabul Bank Investigations; Central Bank Gives Names and Figures, by Martine van Bijlert, 2 May 2011, here.

 

So far under AAN podcast:

• Sari Kouvo on women’s rights

• Fabrizio Foschini on Afghanistan’s kuchi community

• Thomas Ruttig (in German) on drug cultivation

• Guest author Philipp Münch on his AAN report ‘Local Afghan Power Structures and the International Military Intervention’

• Kate Clark on the opening oft he Taleban office in Qatar

 

Go here to choose and listen

 

Up next:

• Thomas Ruttig about the 2014 Afghan elections and democracy

 

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Thematic Category: Economy & Development