Tens of millions of dollars in cash were reportedly delivered in suitcases, backpacks and carrier bags by the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the office of Afghan president Hamid Karzai for more than a decade.
The so-called “ghost money” was meant to buy influence for the CIA but instead fuelled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s Afghanistan exit strategy, US officials were quoted as saying. “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States,” one said.
The CIA declined to comment on the report in the New York Times.
Khalil Roman, who was Mr Karzai’s chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the paper: “We called it ‘ghost money’. It came in secret and it left in secret.”
There was no evidence that Mr Karzai personally received any of the money, Afghan officials told the newspaper, saying the cash was handled by his National Security Council.
Mr Karzai, in Helsinki for a meeting with Finnish leaders, said the office of the National Security Council had been receiving support from the US government for the past ten years. He said the amounts had been “not big” and the funds were used for various purposes, including assistance for the wounded.
He did not comment on the report’s claims that the funds fuelled corruption and empowered warlords.