Unfreeze Afghanistan: how many millions has Britain stolen?

IssueOctober - November 2022
News by PN staff

The humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan can only be ended by allowing the Afghan central bank ‘immediate access to its foreign reserves in full’. Those are the words of Andrés Arauz, former general director of the Central Bank of Ecuador (see PN 2661), reflecting the views of many other financial and aid experts.

All $9bn of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves have been ‘frozen’ – stolen – by five governments. Of the $9bn held overseas, $7bn is held in the US, leaving $2bn in the hands of Britain, Germany, Switzerland and the UAE.

PN believes that the Bank of England (BoE) must be holding hundreds of millions of pounds of Afghan government reserves.

This money could have a valuable humanitarian impact if it was restored to the Afghan central bank.

The BoE and the treasury have refused to clear up this question in response to Freedom of Information requests from PN.

Independent journalist Spencer Ackerman has discovered that the US refused to allow the Taliban government to have a seat on the board of the Afghan Fund that it is setting up to control $3.5bn of Afghan reserves.

‘The Taliban wanted a seat at the board so they could have a veto over potential misuse of the funds,’ Graeme Smith, a senior consultant to the International Crisis Group with extensive experience in Afghanistan, told Ackerman’s Forever Wars outlet. This was unacceptable to the US.

In July, in Afghanistan, the inflation rate for food and fuel stood at 43.4 percent, according to the World Bank.

Save the Children Afghanistan says that 3.9 million children in Afghanistan are acutely malnourished.

89 percent of households continued to face ‘insufficient food consumption’ in September, according to the UN’s World Food Programme.

Topics: Afghanistan