US seeks to provide $3.5b of frozen assets to Afghanistan but not Taliban

Photo: Da Afghanistan Bank

The US Treasury Department says the $3.5 billion in Afghanistan’s central bank reserves will be put under the control of a Swiss-based oversight board to pay for limited financial services in the country while ensuring the Taliban doesn’t get access to it.

The funds that were frozen by the US after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last year will be held at the Bank for International Settlements and distributed with the consent of a four-member board — one from the US, one from Switzerland and two Afghans not associated with the Taliban, the Bloomberg reported.

Bloomberg quoted two senior US Treasury officials as saying that the funds will support Afghanistan’s macroeconomic and financial stability.

The fund will be provided for electricity payments and arrears at international financial institutions, Bloomberg reported, adding that most of it will be set aside until the board decides that the Afghan central bank has implemented money-laundering controls and has sufficient political independence.

Quoting officials, Bloomberg reported that the Afghan members of the board will be Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady, the former minister of commerce and industry and a former head of Afghanistan’s central bank, and Shah Mehrabi, a Maryland professor and former member of the central bank’s board.

Talks with the Taliban about the release of the frozen assets of the central bank stalled after the US killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike last month, accusing the Taliban of giving shelter to the terrorist leader.

Out of the $7 billion of the frozen assets of the central bank, the remaining $3.5 billion is tied up in a US federal court case involving the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.