Poring over stacks of documents, investigators at the American Embassy in Kabul have pinpointed dozens of instances in which Kabul Bank executives may have bribed Afghan officials, including a successful bid to hold the contract to process the salaries that the government pays its employees each month—approximately seventy-five million dollars. Access to the salaries would give bank officials an opportunity to earn millions of dollars in interest in the course of a single year.
“The troubles at Kabul Bank stand as a parable for the sometimes malign effect that the influx of billions of foreign dollars has had on this impoverished country since 2001. While the Western money spent has done a great deal to create a modern economy, much of it has been captured by a tiny minority of well-connected Afghan businessmen and politicians, and much of it illegitimately. The loss of seven hundred million dollars or more at Kabul Bank represents a significant percentage of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product, which stands at only about twelve billion dollars.”