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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Car bomb hits near US base – CNN

Category : Stocks

The Express Tribune
Car bomb hits near US base
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — A car bomber hit outside a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing three people and leaving civilians injured, authorities said. The blast killed a security guard and two truck drivers delivering supplies, according to
Deadly Bombing in Eastern AfghanistanVoice of America (blog)
Three Afghans killed in suicide attack on US baseAFP
Three Afghans dead in new blast at US base in Afghan eastReuters India

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Afghan policewoman kills coalition contractor in Kabul: NATO – Reuters

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BBC News
Afghan policewoman kills coalition contractor in Kabul: NATO
By Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi. KABUL | Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:49am EST. KABUL (Reuters) – An Afghan woman wearing a police uniform shot dead on Monday a civilian contractor working for Western forces in the police chief's compound in Kabul,
Afghan 'rogue' attacks kill US aide and five policeBBC News
Afghan police officer kills American contractorCNN
US Civilian Is Killed at Police Post in KabulNew York Times
Washington Post

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Afghan elite ransacked $900m from Kabul Bank, inquiry finds

Category : Business

Kabul Bank report finds officials missed signs of fraud and political meddling halted prosecutions

The founder and chairman was wanted by Interpol for financial crimes, shareholders were helping to smuggle cash out of the country hidden in food trays on an airline they owned, and the chief executive was handing out no-strings-attached envelopes of cash to powerful connections.

These were just some of the red flags missed or ignored by Afghan authorities, and now highlighted by a public inquiry into the $900m (£560m) Kabul Bank scandal. Published today, it lays bare for the first time the extent of fraud, cover-up and political collusion in a crisis that nearly crashed the national economy.

The report found Kabul Bank was in effect run as a vast and lucrative Ponzi scheme, where deposits were stolen instead of being invested. But it was ensconced in the heart of Kabul’s financial and political elite, with connections that helped delay investigations into the true state of its finances. Once the scale of the fraud became known, “political interference” also stalled efforts to prosecute those responsible and recover stolen cash.

“Many of the primary actors carry on their business in Afghanistan without fear of ever being held accountable, not to mention prosecuted,” the report of the public inquiry into the Kabul Bank crisis found. It warned there was “impunity for powerful Afghans” along with “scapegoating of the less powerful”.

Brothers of the president, Hamid Karzai, and vice-president, Mohammad Fahim, were among the bank’s shareholders and creditors. They are not facing prosecution for their involvement with the bank. Both have repaid money and deny any wrongdoing.

Relative to the size of Afghanistan’s puny economy, the Kabul Bank crisis is the biggest banking scandal the world has ever seen, equivalent to around 5% of national income, and staggering in its scale and audacity.

An array of forged documents and fake official stamps for nonexistent companies helped managers keep one set of books for auditors and another for themselves; more than $800m of the stolen money went to just 12 people and seven companies connected to them.

Hundreds of millions of dollars was sent abroad, some in the food trays of an airline owned by shareholders linked to the bank, with staff salaries of $320,000 booked as “pilots of cash delivery”. Other sums were sent more mundanely through international wire transfers.

At one point, the then-chief executive officer, Khalilullah Ferozi, drove around the Afghan capital handing out money in envelopes.

“It was almost worse than corruption,” said Drago Kos, chair of the joint Afghan and international anti-corruption committee behind the inquiry. “In corruption you give the money and ask for something in return. Here the money was given without asking for anything in return.”

Ferozi has declined to say how much he handed out, or to whom exactly. But among the bank’s creditors are a group who got $3.1m in loans but are so powerful that receivers for Kabul Bank have declined to even ask for the money back. Overall, they would be lucky to recover even half of what was stolen, Kos said.

So a government bailout of Kabul Bank in late 2010 means Afghanistan’s impoverished population, who earn on average less than $500 a year, indirectly pay for the extravagance of Kabul Bank’s looters.

“Every citizen in Afghanistan will bear the cost,” the report said. “This is real money from the annual budget of the government that could be much better spent on other priorities such as education, health care, infrastructure, or security.”

The inquiry suggested the crisis could have been staved off, or at least mitigated, with more robust institutions and better financial controls, including information about the bank’s managers.

Sherkhan Farnood, founder, chairman and former competitive poker player (in the World Series of Poker Europe), was wanted for financial crimes in Russia most of the time that he was helping himself to depositors’ money in Kabul.

Background checks when Farnood founded Kabul Bank in 2004 did not uncover his murky past. But there was subsequently plenty of opportunity to pick up on his misdeeds: in 2007, police in Afghanistan were told that Russia wanted to prosecute him on charges including purchasing property for illegal use.

The Interpol warrant arrived as Farnood was just starting to use bank money to build up a portfolio of luxury villas and other real estate in Dubai worth $151m, and help other shareholders, friends and political connections line their pockets.

He had only begun stealing money around 2006, although he probably never intended to run Kabul Bank as a conventional business, Kos said. “To have a Ponzi scheme you need a certain amount of money,” he told the Guardian after the release of the public inquiry’s findings. “They just didn’t have the money to do it from the beginning.”

If authorities had followed up the request, or simply taken it as a warning to look more closely into the finances of Farnood and his bank, they might have staved off the worst of the crisis. “Interpol sent out an arrest warrant for him for illegal banking activities, organising a criminal group, money laundering, which means basically he did the same thing there,” Kos said.

“Then he came over here, and what was funny was that since 2007, Interpol Afghanistan knew about it and did nothing. Even today they do nothing and he is still wanted by the Russians.”

Apparent Afghan Insider Kills NATO Troop, Civilian – ABC News

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Apparent Afghan Insider Kills NATO Troop, Civilian
ABC News
An apparent insider attack by Afghan forces has killed a NATO service member and an international civilian contractor with the military alliance, the coalition said Sunday. The attack Saturday in eastern Afghanistan also killed or wounded Afghan
16 Taliban militants killed in one-day operations in Afghanistan: gov'tXinhua
NATO force in Afghanistan: 1 service member, 1 civilian dead in apparent Washington Post
Afghan insider attack kills Nato soldier, contractorHindustan Times

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NATO stresses Afghanistan strategy is on track – ABC Online

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The Guardian
NATO stresses Afghanistan strategy is on track
ABC Online
NATO is under further pressure today to reassure its allies that its strategy to hand back full responsibility for security to Afghan forces by 2014, is on track. It comes as it announces a scaling back of some joint operations with Afghan forces in
NATO order changes way Afghan war is foughtSan Francisco Chronicle
New strategy limits operations with small Afghan forcesDetroit Free Press
NATO scales back joint Afghan operationsXinhua
New York Times

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Taliban says attack on base was retaliation – ABC Online

Category : Stocks
Taliban says attack on base was retaliation
ABC Online
TONY EASTLEY: There are fears as many as eight women have been killed accidentally in an air strike in Afghanistan. The women died as NATO targeted suspected insurgents operating in a remote north-eastern province. The deaths came at the end of a
Eight Nato troops killed in AfghanistanThe Guardian
Tough words from general on Afghan insider attacks The Associated Press
Inside Attacks Show Taliban StrengthDaily Beast
BBC News

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NATO forces in Afghanistan: 4 international troops killed in attack by Afghan … – Washington Post

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NATO forces in Afghanistan: 4 international troops killed in attack by Afghan
Washington Post
KABUL, Afghanistan — At least one Afghan police officer turned his gun on NATO troops at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday, killing four international service members before escaping, a spokesman for the international military
Afghan insider attack kills 4 NATO soldiersThe Hindu
Military: Afghan inside attack kills 4 NATO
Suspected policeman kills four Nato troops in AfghanistanHindustan Times
Fox News
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Double suicide attack near US base in Afghanistan kills 12 – Globe and Mail

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Globe and Mail
Double suicide attack near US base in Afghanistan kills 12
Globe and Mail
KABUL, Afghanistan — AP Two suicide attackers, one driving a fuel tanker, blew themselves up near a US base in eastern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 12 people, officials said. The attack around dawn in the town of Sayed Abad in Wardak
Afghan suicide bombings kill 12San Francisco Chronicle
Dozen killed in two Taliban suicide attacks in East AfghanistanToronto Star

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6 Americans Killed In One Day By Afghan Partners – NPR

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The Guardian
6 Americans Killed In One Day By Afghan Partners
by AP KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan working on an installation shared by Afghan and foreign forces shot to death three US service members, raising to six the number of Americans killed by their Afghan partners in a single day, officials said
Killed soldiers set to be namedThe Guardian
Afghan Policeman Kills 10 Fellow PolicemenABC News

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Attacker in Afghan Uniform Kills 3 US Soldiers – New York Times

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Attacker in Afghan Uniform Kills 3 US Soldiers
New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan police officer shot and killed at least three American Special Forces soldiers on Friday after inviting them for a meal at a check post in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said, in what appeared to be premeditated
Gunman in Afghan uniform kills 3 US troopsCBS News
Three US troops killed by man in Afghan army uniformFox News

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