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Employees of DAB suspended for alleged corruption reinstated

Employees of DAB suspended for alleged corruption reinstated

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Feb 25, 2020 - 09:42

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Da Afghanistaninfo-icon Bank (DAB) has reversed the job suspension of its three employees accused of receiving $47,600 bribe from a firm UNICON, Pajhwok Afghan News reliably learned on Tuesday. 

Documents showed that the amount received in bribe by the trio had been transferred to a particular bank account. 

Pajhwok Afghan News learned from documents available with the agency that the Financial Supervision Department (FSD) of the DAB had signed a capacity building agreement with UNICON in November 2017.

On June 02, 2019, UNICON dispatched an email to DAB Governor Khalil Sediqi about some information provided to the DAB about UNICON in which the performance of the company was portrayed negatively.

The source said that three employees of the DAB --- Abasin Mal, Abbas Samih and Mustafa Samih --- had asked the UNICON Company for bribe and warned if the money is not provided, the ongoing contact of related to UNICON would be terminated.

UNICON wrote to the DAB that documents supporting the claims of bribe are attached with the e-mail. 

A formal latter from the DAB issued in August 2019, showed that Abasin Mal had been transferred from Procurement Department to General Services Department, Abas Samih from FSD to Risk Assessment and Legal Department and Mustafa Samih from FSD to Risk and Legal Affairs Department. 

In addition, the letter maintained that all contracts of Black White Company (to whose account the amount was transferred) had been suspended until the further instructions and the Comptroller General Department had been tasked to investigate the issue in 10 days. 

In September 2, 2019, DAB recommended to the Attorney General Office (AGO) that the jobs of these three individuals should be suspended. The AGO on the same date order the suspension of the three DAB employees. 

DAB presented its initial investigation report on September 20, 2019 and submitted to its Audit Committee. 

The initial investigation report showed that Abasin Mal was asked to provide information about his communication with the firm. Mr. Mal provided his WhatsApp and Facebook messenger information with the UNICON. But shared images clearly appeared to be inconsistent and incomplete.

Regarding official e-mails, Mal told investigators that he had no access to certain documents but latter after another requested he provided unnecessarily large bunch of 1,354 e-mails to team which the team declared as an attempt to merely waste time of the investigating team.

Another part of the report says: “According to the messages exchanged between Mal and the UNICON, it is clear that he asked the UNICON to dispatched the bribery amount to the Black White Company.”

The report mentions that Abbas Samih responded to one of investigating team’s interrogatory letter and said: “I don’t have any personal contact through telephone, e-mail or social media with the UNICON since the launch of the project.”

Mustafa Samih responded in this way: “I have no role when it comes to the signing of contract, but when the UNICOM Company practically launched its work the FSD, I was  assigned as contact person through a formal letter on 21/11/2017 and since then I have conducted all the affairs on the directives of the Financial Supervision Department and the head and deputy head of this department had been copied in all communication.”

However, Initial investigation report of the DAB showed that Mustafa Samih held indirect and informal contact with the UNICON.

The report says that when the Black White Company was asked through a formal letter, they handed over the bank report of the Afghan United Bank in which $47,591 had been transferred through a transaction on September 19,2018 from UNICON Company to the bank account of Black White Company. 

In an e-mail, the Afghan United Bank wrote: “”$47,591 had been transferred on September 19, 2018 to account No. AE690330000019100058617 for the rent and stay expenditures of the Black White Construction Company. 

But according to source which did not want to be named said that UNICON in e-mail to DAB wrote that 10 percent bribe of the total value of the contract had been asked for and $47,000 had been transferred while the remaining is yet to be paid. 

UNICON alleged the involvement of senior DAB officials in this case but refrained from naming them. 

The source added: “The issue in this case is that $1.4 million is yet to be paid. The individuals involved in this case are trying solve the problem and get their share from $1.4 million as well because if the case go to the court nobody could get anything. There are two scenario regarding the case one is legal aspect and another is criminal aspect. The case had been declared as criminal therefore the payment could not be issued. As such, they want to take out the money from any other way possible.”

The DAB report showed that at one stage the UNICON through and e-mail on June 17, 2019 revoked its claim of corruption. However, this decision to revoke the claim bears little weightage due to events that followed. 

The report says after the revoke, on July 8, 2019, DAB informed Rastam Khan (Project Lead of UNICON) via Worldinfo-icon Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) email about the investigation and shared information about communication between the first deputy Governor of DAB and UNICON firm.

If Rastam Khan had withdrawn his claim, he could have quickly sent an email that it was misunderstanding and the he had withdrawn from the claim while the WB email was sent 21 days after Rastam Khan’s withdrawal claim, the source said. However, he did not say anything as such.

The report said DAB’s first deputy Wahid Naosher sent an email to team leader of World Bank Mr. Mohammad Tawfiq and informed him about shifting of the three accused to other departments, launch of investigation of their cases, creation of a special committee and suspension of Black White company’s contract. Therefore, if the claim to revoke the claim was done, then there was no need to take such a large number of actions.

According to the report, investigation into illegal extortions from UNICON was approved on August 15, 2019, therefore if the withdrawal claim was valid, then the Executive Committee of DAB would not have approved the investigation and would have accepted the withdrawal email as valid and stopped further proceedings.

The report also said if UNICON had withdrawn from its accusations of corruption, then why did they went on to hire a law firm and send legal notice to DAB about the issue.

A source said on condition of anonymity: The company after its first email in the beginning sent a second email in June, but later withdrew their claim. However, then it made even a stronger claim of corruption and presented all the concrete evidence to the DAB management.”

A letter,however,  showed that recently the bank not only finished the suspension of three accused but also reinstated them to their old positions. This comes at a time when the case is still not decided and closed.  

The source claimed UNICON had said it was ready to answer every question in any country except Afghanistan. “But the Attorney General was kept in dark about this statement of the company. The AG was told the company has taken back its claim and does not want to come to the AGO.” “All this changed the AG mindset.”

The source said a person inside the AGO had presented a report about the issue to the attorney general and had argued three reasons for lifting suspension of the bank officials. 

The source said three weak and false reasons were presented to AG which led to an unreasonable decision. “The AG was told the company has been refusing to appear before the AGO, secondly that the company has withdrawn its claim and thirdly why the company made the claim two months after the money had been taken. “All these claims are untrue.”

Pajhwok could not receive a copy of official decision about the reinstatement of three accused. AGO spokesman Jamshid Rasouli said Pajhwok could obtain information about the matter after filling and summiting an access to information form.

A central bank spokesman said it would take time to give a reply as the concerned authorities were on an official visit.

UNICON also did not reply to emails until filing of this report.

Nh/mds/ma

 

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