Foreign Relations & International Law

SIGAR Issues Assessment on Theft of Funds During Afghan Government Collapse

Tia Sewell
Tuesday, August 9, 2022, 5:28 PM

The report does not find sufficient evidence to support allegations that President Ghani and his senior advisors fled with millions of dollars in cash taken from the Afghan government.

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The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) today released its final report concerning the alleged theft of funds from Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s August 2021 takeover. As the Afghan government fell, various media outlets reported that some senior officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, had fled the country with millions of dollars loaded onto helicopters.

SIGAR found that while “some cash was taken from the grounds of the palace and loaded onto President Ghani’s evacuation helicopters, evidence indicates that this number did not exceed $1 million and may have been closer in value to $500,000.” But notably, the report also details “suspicious circumstances” in which during the evacuation, approximately $5 million in cash was “accidentally” left behind at the presidential palace—some or all of which belonged to Ghani or the UAE government. SIGAR notes that these funds were subsequently divided among presidential security officials prior to the Taliban’s capture of the palace. 

With regard to other examples of alleged theft, SIGAR asserts that the evidence is generally lacking. The report states that broadly, “although there appears to have been ample opportunity and effort to plunder the Afghan government coffers, at this time SIGAR does not have sufficient evidence to determine with certainty whether hundreds of millions of dollars were removed from the country by Afghan officials as the government collapsed.”

You can read the report here and below.

Tia Sewell is a former associate editor of Lawfare. She studies international relations and economics at Stanford University.

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