Commentary

Gov't Inspector: $50 Million Stolen From US Treasury Disappears After Being Found in Afghan Bank

By Joe Schoffstall | May 9, 2013 | 4:16pm EDT

John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), spoke at New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program on Wednesday and said $50 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars was stolen from the United States Treasury and found in a bank in Afghanistan.

The money has since gone missing.

"We identified 50 million dollars stolen from the United States Treasury and it was sitting in an Afghan bank account," said Sopko.

"We identified the bank account, we obtained a court order in the United States and had it served on the Afghan government to get them to seize that money. For months we pressed the Afghan Attorney General's office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to freeze the account and begin the legal process to allow us to seize that cash. At first, we were told the bank account was frozen and the money was protected.

"Unfortunately, as too many times it is the case, a few weeks ago we learned the money was mysteriously unfrozen by some powerful, unnamed bureaucrat in Kabul. Now, most of the money is gone."

The special inspector said they will continue to search for the money and will do their best to prosecute the people responsible for stealing the money.

"Now, we will continue to try to find that money, and we'll continue to try and prosecute the individuals who are involved in stealing the money. We will continue to work with honest Afghan officials, but I feel our recent experience with this case and others may be the future for rule of law in Afghanistan unless we --the United States government-- make fighting corruption a priority for the Afghans and we hold their feet to the fire to do what they have promised to do repeatedly in international agreements."

 

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