A US-funded audit of Afghanistan’sAfghanistan’s Taliban-run central bank failed to secure support from Washington for releasing bank assets from a $3.5 billion Swiss trust fund, which would have helped the country’scountry’s financial crisis, according to U.S. officials.
An anonymous U.S. Treasury official said that the audit had kept the department’s position that the bank must implement changes before it accepts payments from the Afghan Fund to Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), Reuters reported.
The Afghan Fund, based in Switzerland, was established last year with the help of half of the $7 billion in central bank funds that were frozen at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in August 2021 after the Taliban seized power.
Reuters reports that the audit, financed by USAID and carried out by an outside contractor, looked at DAB’sDAB’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing measures and its banking monitoring and payments departments. The audit’saudit’s final findings are still pending. Therefore, a more thorough evaluation is required.
“Da Afghanistan Bank must show that it is free from political influence and interference,” a U.S. Treasury official told Reuters, referring to the need to replace the three Taliban officials who oversee the bank with professional bankers who are not under U.S. or U.N. sanctions.
The official emphasized that the Taliban must deploy a “reputable” impartial monitor and demonstrate their “adequate” measures against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The leadership of the bank and its anti-money laundering policies are among the worries in Washington and other capitals, according to Reuters. A source of friction has been the Taliban’sTaliban’s demand for the return of DAB money that has been frozen in the U.S. and other countries.
The de facto authorities have yet to be commented on the matter.
The U.S. government froze assets held in reserve by the Afghan central bank worth $7 billion after the Taliban took control of the country. This sum was then divided in half. Half of the amount (US$ 3.5 billion) was transferred to a trust fund in Switzerland, while the other half is currently subject to a legal claim by victims of the 9/11 attacks.