Citing fear of reprisals and political interference in his investigation of the largest financial scandal in the country, the governor of Afghanistan’s Central Bank announced his resignation on Monday while in the United States, saying that he no longer felt safe in Afghanistan.
The banker, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, made his resignation public in telephone interviews with Afghan radio stations and in a pointed resignation letter, which was e-mailed to reporters.
He has been under near constant criticism and the threat of legal action from the attorney general, who is appointed by President Hamid Karzai, since he began to speak out publicly about the fraud at the Kabul Bank, the nation’s largest private bank.
The bank’s near collapse involved years of malfeasance by politically connected bank shareholders, including the brothers of both Karzai and the first vice president, Muhammad Qasim Fahim, who along with other shareholders took more than $900 million in loans, many of them interest free with no repayment plans.
The bank’s troubles and the government’s failure to deal with them was one of several issues that caused the International Monetary Fund to suspend its program with Afghanistan, which had the effect of halting the country’s access to some foreign aid money and threatens to reduce sharply the country’s ability to access the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund, administered by the World Bank.