US Treasury allegation baseless: Ansari
KANDAHARCITY (PAN): The New Ansari Exchange, a major money-transfer firm, rejected on Sunday the US government's allegation that the company was a money laundering vehicle for drug traffickers.
On February 18, the US Treasury said the company was at the center of an unofficial network of individuals, money exchange houses and other businesses operating throughout Afghanistan and in the United Arab Emirates.
"Between 2007 and 2010, the New Ansari Money Exchange used the billions of dollars it transferred in and out of Afghanistan to conceal illicit narcotics proceeds," the Treasury said in a statement.
The Treasury also banned American citizens and companies from doing business with the New Ansari Exchange, one of the largest financial institutions in Afghanistan, for its alleged ties to opium traffickers, the Taliban and senior members of President Hamid Karzai's administration.
New Ansari Exchange chief, Abdullah Barakzai Ansari, and 15 associates were designated under the foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Americans caught doing business with New Ansari or its associates face up to $10 million in fines and 30 years in prison.
But the allegations were rejected as baseless by Abdullah Ansari at a press conference at his residence in Kandahar City. "We transfer money to the United Arab Emirates of those Afghans who import goods from that country."
Ansari insisted his firm was playing a key role in the country's development and that it had been blacklisted as a result of tribal differences. He also denied the allegation that his firm had links to drug smugglers.
If a single allegation against the firm was proved, he was ready to stand trial, Ansari said, adding his offices in Kandahar, Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, China and the UAE would continue to work.
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