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Finance Minister's tearful plea for support

in Afghan Business

Finance Minister's tearful plea for support

Diplomats filing into the conference room at Afghanistan’s finance ministry on Wednesday were expecting an update on accountability targets from the finance minister, instead, they were faced with Mr Zakhilwal’s personal plea for support in the corruption claims against him.

 According to sources, he brought out personal financial papers and tax receipts and begged for support in the face face of what he described as politically motivated corruption allegations, and eventually broke down in tears.

 In a 45 minute defence of his behaviour, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal denied any wrongdoing, saying he “acted naively” in his handling of $2m of campaign funds for President Hamid Karzai’s re-election campaign in 2009. He also added that he feared for his life and his family’s safety because of the role he played in trying to clear up a $900m banking scandal involving Kabul Bank.

Shocked diplomats, gathered from across the international community, including senior UN officials, made no comments and asked no questions. “I don’t think he necessarily expected support in the room,” said one western diplomat. “But maybe he was hoping that the major donor nations – ones like the US, Britain, Japan – would tell Karzai that if he tries to sack him and cannot replace him with a credible minister to follow up on funding commitments from July’s Tokyo aid conference, that funds may be reduced.”

The investigation was launched against him after TOLO TV aired accusations last month, that he had stashed large amounts of money overseas.

 Mr. Zakhilwal denies the accusations, saying the money was earned legitimately from consulting work done before he took office in 2009, and real estate investments maintained by Afghanistan’s decade long property boom.



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