`Afghan`s New Ansari Exchange was laundering Taliban money`

Afghanistan`s largest `hawala` money transfer business, whose Kabul office was shuttered following a raid by an anti-graft task force, was moving the cash earned by Taliban through extortion and drug trafficking.

Updated: Aug 12, 2010, 18:22 PM IST

New York: Afghanistan`s largest `hawala` money transfer business, whose Kabul office was shuttered following a raid by an anti-graft task force, was helping to launder profits from the illicit opium trade and moving the cash earned by Taliban through extortion and drug trafficking, a media report said on Thursday.
Citing US and Afghan officials, the Wall Street Journal
reported that there were links between the money transfers by
the New Ansari Exchange and some of the most powerful
political and business figures in the country, including
relatives of President Hamid Karzai.

The Kabul office of New Ansari Exchange was shuttered
after a January raid by US-trained agents of an
anti-corruption taskforce.

Armed with thousands of records seized from the building,
investigators have been digging into the movement of billions
of dollars in and out of Afghanistan, the report said.

It said the New Ansari probe is threatening to disrupt
relations between the Afghan President and his US allies.

Last week, Karzai took more direct control of the
taskforce that staged the raid, the Sensitive Investigative
Unit, and another US-advised anti-corruption group, the Major
Crimes Task Force. He ordered a handpicked commission to
review scores of past and current anti-corruption inquests.
Senior US military and civilian officials with direct
knowledge of the events view Karzai`s move as an effort to
protect those close to him and, in the process, to quash the
investigation into New Ansari and describe it as a blow to
American-backed anti-corruption efforts, the report said.

Members of the Sensitive Investigative Unit are vetted
and trained by the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the
Major Crimes Task Force is trained by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation.

PTI