Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Kabul International Airport (KBL) has allowed monied officials to allegedly smuggle billions out of the country over the years and according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) continues to do so.The report examined the airport’s plan to regulate bulk cash moving through the airport, and found persons passing through the “Very Important Persons” (VIP) lounge or the “Very Very Important Persons” (VVIP) lounge can stroll by nearly all safeguards placed on money laundering and bulk cash smuggling.
VIPs do not undergo main security and customs screenings, and are allegedly not required to scan their carried cash through bulk currency counters, which capture and catalogue currency serial numbers to allow for the detection and investigation of financial crimes, according to the report. The KBL lounges reportedly don’t even have security cameras.
The Congressional Research Service estimates that $4.5 billion was taken out of Afghanistan in 2011.
SIGAR reports there were no bulk currency counters available and Afghan officials had no plans to require VIPs to scan their cash, despite an 2010 pledge in to implement regulations or law within a year.SIGAR notes that proper controls to monitor cash flows are “particularly critical for a country fraught with corruption, narcotics trafficking, and insurgent activity,” but their success “depends largely on the degree of political will” of the Afghan government.
Afghan customs at KBL are reportedly “afraid that they would experience negative repercussions from [the Afghan government] if progress in instituting controls at the airport was made.”
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