US Watchdog to Examine Allegations Ashraf Ghani Fled Afghanistan With Millions of Dollars
17:39 GMT 06.10.2021 (Updated: 18:06 GMT 06.10.2021)
© AP Photo / Rahmat GulFILE - In this March 21, 2021 file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a ceremony celebrating the Persian New Year, Nowruz at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s embattled president left the country Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban and signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.
© AP Photo / Rahmat Gul
Ex-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani vehemently rejected accusations he fled the country for the United Arab Emirates with a huge amount of cash, describing the charge as a "baseless lie".
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, has said his office will examine the allegations that former President Ashraf Ghani took millions of dollars with him when he escaped in mid-August.
"We haven't proven that yet. We're looking into that. Actually, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee has asked us to look into that," Sopko told a House of Representatives subcommittee.
Reports of Ghani having fled Afghanistan with millions in cash emerged as a spokesperson for the Russian Embassy told Sputnik that the Afghan president had departed with four cars filled with money.
"As for the collapse of the regime, it is most eloquently characterised by the way Ghani fled from Afghanistan: four cars were full of money, they tried to put part of the money into a helicopter, but everything did not fit. And some of the money was left on the runway", the spokesperson said.
16 August 2021, 08:45 GMT
Subsequent reports suggested that the dollar amount Ghani escaped with was in excess of $169 million, a figure which has never been confirmed.
The deposed president later rebuffed the "unsubstantiated and untrue accusations" and claimed that he was in such a rush he was even forced to leave behind some confidential documents.
In late August, Republicans on the US House Oversight Committee called on Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland to investigate media reports that Ghani had taken more than $169 million in US taxpayer money when he fled Afghanistan.
James Comer and Glenn Grothman wrote to the AG and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, urging the Biden administration to "do everything in its power to seize any illicitly gained funds that were corruptly embezzled by President Ghani".
The two politicians stressed that, although it remained unclear as to how he obtained such an "enormous" sum of cash, "the amount and nature of his flight from Afghanistan raises the spectre that president Ghani illegally and corruptly embezzled these funds from US assistance intended for the Afghan people's welfare and defence".
On 15 August, the day the Taliban* reached the gates of Kabul and subsequently seized control of the country, Ghani fled for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He later claimed that he had done so to prevent bloodshed, and declared that he intended to return to Afghanistan in the near future to provide "justice" for all Afghan nationals.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.