Senate panel not satisfied with Mohammadi’s explanation
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Senate's Commission on Complaints on Wednesday summoned the president’s special representative on reforms and good governance and other senior officials who attended a contract-signing event for a multimillion dollars township project involving a major Kabul Bank defaulter.
The project called Smart City is being constructed by Khalil Ferozi, former Kabul Bank chief executive, who has been jailed and fined for stealing millions of dollars from the bank that almost collapsed some years back.
After an outcry over Ferozi’s involvement in the project, the government cancelled the real estate contract and President Ashraf Ghani suspended his legal advisor Abdul Ali Mohammadi and ordered an investigation into the project.
A presidential decree issued on Tuesday ordered a halt to work on the Smart City project, which was lunched a couple of weeks earlier. The president also ordered better management of the Kabul Bank loan recovery process.
The project launching ceremony was attended by President’s Special Representative for Reforms and Good Governance Ahmad Zia Massoud, Urban Development Minister Syed Sadat Naderi, President’s Legal Advisor Abdul Ali Mohammadi and some lawmakers.
Mohammadi, who appeared before the Senate panel, said: “I will answer for what I have done. The real culprit is the urban development minister, who signed the contract with Ferozi without informing the Kabul Bank investigation commission.”
He added: “One group has hatched a conspiracy to defame me and another involved in the Kabul Bank crisis has hatched the plot against me. Their aim is to disrupt the collection of Baitual Mall money and to provoke Kabul Bank defaulters into not paying their loans.”
Mohammadi claimed having enough information to share in this regard, but said it was not the proper place to do so. He suggested if a delegation was appointed, he would produce evidence in support of his claims.
He argued the document sent to the Urban Development Ministry with his signature had no mention of any contract signing with Ferozi. He said the minister concerned called them to a function without prior information and when they entered the venue, they saw Ferozi.
About Ferozi’s release from jail, Mohammadi said: “Those who are directly responsible are the jail commander and the Attorney General Office and they should answer this question.”
Of the contract-signing with Ferozi, he said: “Under the criminal code, one who is sentenced to more than 10 years in jail is deprived of civil rights. But Ferozi is sentenced to 10 years and he cannot be deprived of his civil rights.”
To the question why Ferozi’s 34 acres of land were not confiscated by the Kabul Bank tribunal, he said the court had not ordered so. “We had in the past received diamonds worth more than $10 million from Ferozi, but we were unable to confiscate them.”
He said the precious stones were currently with the central bank and Ferozi’s $11 million frozen at the Kabul Bank had been given in control of the government.
But Meshrano Jirga complaints panel chief Zalmai Zabuli said the explanations offered by Mohammadi did not convince them. He added besides Mohammadi, some other officials were complicit and should be called to the panel’s meeting next week.
He said the issue needed to be seriously investigated in a way that all those involved could be identified and punished.
The lawmaker said Naderi, Ahmad Zia Massoud, Mohammadi, acting Attorney General Noor Habib Jalal, Pul-i-Charkhi jail commander and director-general of prisons Abdul Aleem Kohistani should be grilled in this regard. “Everyone who has committed negligence and involved in corruption should be identified and punished.”
Ferozi and Sher Khan Farnood -- founder of what has come to be dubbed as a piggy bank -- had been convicted on charges of defrauding the bank of nearly a billion dollars.
According to the AG Office, of the $987 million stolen money, more than $480m has been recovered. Mohammadi said Ferozi had promised to pay back $137 million of the hundreds of millions of dollars he still owed to the bank.
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