MI6 ‘ghost money’ sent to Hamid Karzai amid massive Afghan corruption

MI6 ‘ghost money’ sent to Hamid Karzai amid massive Afghan corruption
Following reports the CIA gave millions of dollars to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, MI6 has said it sent “ghost money” to the country’s government. The donations have sparked claims the funds fuel corruption and are used to appease Afghan warlords.

UK Intelligence said the “bundles” of cash were channeled into special projects aimed at rebuilding the troubled nation, reported UK newspaper the Telegraph. However, Karzai previously stated the handouts from the CIA are an “easy source of petty cash.”

Karzai addressed claims of corruption over the weekend, categorically denying the handouts went to militant leaders and maintaining “the major part of this money was spent on government employees such as our guards.”

Money from the UK government was just a small portion of the multi-million dollar payouts sent by the CIA since 2001.

UK MPs have voiced their concern over the lack of regulation of funds that are channeled into the war-torn nation.

"Every effort towards a political fix in Afghanistan must be made and those efforts welcomed but whether or not the money is well spent is a matter that must also be considered,” Conservative MP and member of the Defense Select Committee told the Daily Telegraph. He added there “is plenty of evidence that Karzai and his clique do not have an interest in a peace settlement but instead have an interest in continuing the conflict.”

Furthermore, Karzai said some of the funds had gone towards bribing the country’s political elite, something that he described as “nothing unusual.”

The reports have given rise to accusations that funds have lined the pockets of Afghanistan’s warlords, given that many are believed to number among the country’s upper political classes.

AFP Photo / Aref Karimi

"It has been paid to individuals, not movements…we give receipts for all these expenditures to the US government," Karzai said to press on Saturday. He has urged the CIA to continue the monetary aid that “has helped us a lot, it has solved lots of our problems.”

Both the CIA and US State Department have refrained from commenting on the reports.

The Afghan government has hitherto not specified the exact quantity of cash it receives from the CIA and MI6 every month because they are not permitted to disclose the figure. However, officials speaking to the New York Times said that the donations from the CIA amounted to tens of millions of dollars since they began following alliance force intervention in the country a decade ago.

Karzai received a barrage of criticism after reports of the foreign donations emerged, many fellow politicians regarding it as a betrayal to Afghanistan.

“Accepting such money is a big insult to Afghanistan. All those who accepted the cash payments have betrayed the nation,” said Hidayatullah Rihaee, an MP from Bamyan province.

Alliance forces are scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, handing over security responsibilities to the Afghan authorities. The withdrawal has sparked a wave of criticism alleging Afghanistan will be overwhelmed by the Taliban. A report published by a UK Ministry of Defense think tank said that Afghanistan will be left with a weakened economy and will be highly dependent on international aid.  

The report, prepared by the Ministry of Defense in November of last year and obtained by the Independent, called the war

“unwinnable in military terms.” Karzai has previously slammed alliance force tactics in Afghanistan, accusing them of violence and corruption. Back in March US Special Forces were ejected from Wardak province following allegations of torture and abuse of civilians. They will be replaced by Afghan security forces in spite of worries that the absence of US forces will embolden Taliban insurgents.