Security stepped up at Kabul bank

Armed police in pick-up trucks have been
stationed outside the main branch of Kabul Bank as customers continue to
withdraw money amid fears the Afghan bank may collapse.

Barbed wire has also been placed across
the road to hold back the crowds.

The run on the bank began earlier this
week after allegations of corruption and mismanagement, although officials have
maintained the bank will not fail.

Meanwhile the US Treasury has denied it
is preparing to bail out the bank.

“While we are providing technical
assistance to the Afghan government, no American taxpayer funds will be used to
support Kabul Bank,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said.

The BBC’s Mark Dummett said that queues
started forming outside the main branch before dawn.

Customers have been told that the branch
is the only one that holds US dollars but they can only withdraw a maximum of
$10,000.

“I am withdrawing my money because
I am taking a trip and I also believe my money will not be safe in this
bank,” said 26-year-old Waheed Shirzoi.

The governor of the Central Bank, Abdul
Qadir Fitrat, told the BBC the queues were only slightly bigger than normal.
Most people wanted to withdraw their salaries or take out money to pay for
presents before the Eid festival, he said.

Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s largest
commercial bank, is reported to have run up huge debts that it cannot afford to
pay.

Last week, newspaper reports said the
bank’s two top executives – chairman Sherkhan Farnood and chief executive
Khalilullah Ferozi, who each own 28% of the bank’s shares – had been replaced
and Mr Farnood ordered to surrender $160m worth of property purchased in Dubai.

However, Mr Fitrat has said the men resigned voluntarily as new
regulations did not permit shareholders to hold executive positions.

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