KABUL - Afghanistan’s finance minister will be investigated after large amounts of money were found to have been deposited into his bank account and transferred abroad, the nation’s anti-corruption chief said Thursday.
The minister, Omar Zakhilwal, denies any wrongdoing.
The allegations were first aired by Afghanistan’s independent Tolo television channel, which broadcast what it said were copies of his bank statements showing that more than $1 million had been deposited between 2007 and 2011.
Tolo said most of the money was transferred to accounts abroad, including $100,000 to a bank in Canada to buy a house.
Tolo quoted Zakhilwal as saying in an interview that he had numerous sources of income, including consultancies.
“Before I came back to Afghanistan, I was a lecturer of economics in Canada and (as a consultant) I had good sources of income too because of $1,500 per day,” Tolo quoted Zakhilwal as saying.
But anti-corruption chief and head of the High Office of Oversight, Azizullah Ludin, told AFP that an investigation into the issue would be launched.
“We already had the information that a large amount of money had been deposited into his account, in fact over $1 million,” Ludin said.
“There are many other high-level and mid-level corruption cases going on in the finance ministry which we have to investigate.
“The investigating team will go to the finance ministry on Saturday and look deep into all these cases including the ones against the finance minister himself,” he said.
The minister earns around $4,000 a month in salary and allowances, the ministry’s chief media advisor Najibullah Manali told AFP.
But, he said, the minister had previously had an active professional life for which he was paid by national and international organisations.
“We will welcome any investigation that is meant to bring more transparency in the financial affairs of the country,” Manali said.
“So far however all efforts made in this regard have been aimed at tainting the character of the minister.”
Afghanistan, which relies largely on Western aid to finance its budget, is ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.