The Afghan Central Bank was looted by the very people who were operating it. The staff of the National Bank made away with as much as 81 million Afghanis ($1.4 million) on Saturday.
Staff at a branch of Afghanistan’s central bank in southern Kandahar province may have got away with as much as 81 million Afghanis ($1.4 million) when they robbed their own bank and ran away, indicated an official investigating the bizarre case. The security cameras fitted inside the bank indicated the secure vault had been cleaned out. However, investigators have yet to gain access to confirm the total amount that has gone missing, said Fazel Ahmad Azimi, the central bank director for Afghanistan’s southwestern region.
“Yesterday we could only open one of the treasury’s doors. We hope to open the next one today.”
Surprisingly, having money disappear isn’t new for the fragile banking system of Afghanistan. The central banking system hasn’t yet fully recovered from a massive scandal amounting to $935 million in 2010 that eventually led to a full-blown financial crisis. Weak regulations and powerful board members have always threatened the very foundation of Afghanistan’s banking system. However, this incident proves just how vulnerable the banking system is from within.
Incidentally, while this may be the first incident of simple smash-n-grab, an international financial watchdog last year very clearly threatened to place Afghanistan on a blacklist and has since warned it needs to do more to enforce laws to regulate its banking sector.
While the investigation might take a few months to conclude, those closely associated with the inner workings of the Central Bank know who is to blame. The Kandahar raid is believed to have been orchestrated out by the director of the bank branch, an employee of nine years, with the help of his son and brother-in-law who were also on staff, according to Azimi.
The trio very specifically chose the branch in Spin Boldak near the border with Pakistan. As soon as the robbery was detected, the group must have fled to Pakistan, momentarily escaping the local police, theorize investigators.
Interestingly, being the employees of the bank, the trio knew about security protocol and very carefully erased the security footage of the day the robbery took place. They seem to have either taken away or most likely destroyed the backup tapes that might implicate them.
However, investigators were hopeful that some footage might be recovered from the memory chip of the security cameras. If arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of robbing the Central Bank of Afghanistan, the criminals might face the most severe of penalties reserved for high treason.
[Image Credit | Al Arabiya News]