Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hamid Karzai admits office gets 'bags of money' from Iran

Afghan president says Iran provides up to £625,000 in cash at a time to pay office expenses, just as US funds other offices

Share87 Jon Boone in Kabul

guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 October 2010

"Hamid Karzai has admitted that his chief of staff collects "bags of money", containing hundreds of thousands of euros, from the Iranian government each year.

The Afghan president told a press conference that the cash was used to pay his office expenses and that he was happy to take large sums from Iran, Afghanistan's most important ally and the main regional enemy of the US.

"This is nothing hidden," Karzai said. "We are grateful for Iranian help in this regard. The United States is doing the same thing. They're providing cash to some of our offices."

He said that once or twice a year Iran provided as much as €700,000 (£625,000) and that the money was handled by Umar Daudzai, the powerful chief of staff who is known for his anti-western views.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that at the end of an official visit by Karzai to Iran, Daudzai was handed bags of cash by an Iranian official as he waited to board the presidential plane.

Karzai's admission over Iran's role at the heart of the Afghan administration clears up a long-standing mystery surrounding the funding of his office. It had long been assumed Karzai had access to a sizeable slush fund because of his habit of disbursing money, cars and other gifts to political allies and others considered due awards....."

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