Karzai's bags of cash a conundrum for the U.S.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai shrugged off accusations on Monday that his chief of staff, Umar Daudzai, received "bags of money" from Iran.
The New York Times reported that Daudzai received $1 million to $2 million every other month from the neighboring country of Iran and that the money was distributed to Afghan lawmakers, tribal elders and even Taliban commanders to secure their loyalty.
Bags of money seem to be floating around quite often in Afghanistan these days.They have been a huge thorn in the efforts to curb corruption in Kabul. The Post's Greg Miller wrote in September:
After nearly nine years of nation-building in Afghanistan, experts said, the U.S. government faces mounting evidence that it has helped to assemble one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
One of the biggest problems concerns the bags of cash. An estimated $1 billion a year leaves the country in bags carried out of the Kabul airport. Miller also wrote in August:
In April, officials encountered a courier for a financial transfer firm who reported that he was carrying $700,000 on a flight to Dubai, but when customs officials inspected the courier's luggage, they found an additional $600,000.
However, in his dismissal of the news, Karzai said cash transactions are quite normal and then-President George W. Bush was aware of the Iranian donations. The United States supposedly gives him bags of cash as well.
To complicate the story, the Iranian embassy in Kabul denies any cash payments, saying the allegations are "ridiculous and insulting."
| October 25, 2010; 9:47 AM ET
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