Saturday October 16, 2021

$12m seized from former officials as cash crunch hits Afghanistan

September 16, 2021
$12m seized from former officials as cash crunch hits Afghanistan

KABUL: Afghanistan’s central bank said Wednesday that the Taliban had seized more than $12 million in cash and gold from the homes of former government officials, as a financial crunch threatens the group's rule one month after they took back power.

Most government employees have yet to return to work — and in many cases salaries had already not been paid for months — leaving millions scrambling to make ends meet. Even those with money in the bank are struggling, as branches limit withdrawals to the equivalent of $200 a week — with customers having to queue for hours.

And while remittances have resumed from abroad, customers awaiting funds at international chains such as Western Union and MoneyGram complained Wednesday that branches they visited had run out of cash.

The bank has called on all transactions in the aid-dependent country to be made in local currency. "All Afghans in the government and non-governmental organisations are asked to use Afghani in their contracts and economic transactions," the central bank said Wednesday.

The bank later issued another statement saying Taliban fighters handed over $12.3 million in cash and gold seized from the homes of officials from the former government — a large part discovered at the home of former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

"The money recovered came from high-ranking officials... and a number of national security agencies who kept cash and gold in their homes," the bank said. "It is, however, still not known for what purpose they were kept."