Billions of dollars secreted out of Kabul


Spiegel Online
July 5, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Billions of dollars are being secreted out of Kabul to help well-connected Afghans buy luxury villas in Dubai. Amid concerns that the money could be the result of corruption, American politicians have temporarily cut off aid to the Afghan government.

Brigadier General Mohammed Asif Jabarkhel sits with folded arms in his office, just a few steps away from the security checkpoint at Kabul International Airport. “Of course I know what’s going on here,” the 59-year-old head of the airport’s customs police grumbles from beneath his thick moustache as a fan whirs in the background. “But, in this country, who’s allowed to speak the truth?”

Jabarkhel is referring to the huge amounts of money regularly being secreted out of Afghanistan by plane in boxes and suitcases. According to some estimates, since 2007, at least $3 billion (€2.4 billion) in cash has left the country in this way. The preferred destination for these funds is Dubai, the tax haven in the Persian Gulf. And, given the fact that Afghanistan’s total GDP amounts to the equivalent of $13.5 billion, there is no way that the funds involved in this exodus are merely the proceeds of legal business transactions.

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