Afghan Fund trustees meet for first time in Geneva

Photo: Da Afghanistan Bank

Trustees for the Afghan Fund, a foundation established to manage $3.5 billion in frozen central bank assets, met Monday for the first time in Geneva.

A Swiss government spokesperson confirmed the meeting to Reuters but did not disclose details of the agenda.

The trustees job going forward will however be to decide how and when to disburse the funds to meet the fund’s purpose to “receive, protect, preserve and disburse assets for the benefit of the Afghan people”.

The trustees include Swiss foreign ministry official Alexandra Baumann, US Ambassador to Switzerland Scott Miller, former Afghan central bank chief Anwar Ahady and US academic Shah Mehrabi.

A total of $7 billion of Afghanistan central bank funds were frozen by the United States treasury department last year following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s takeover.

Two months ago, the United States announced the establishment of the fund and said it was transferring $3.5 billion into the Swiss-based entity.

The creation of the trust fund came after months of talks between US President Joe Biden’s administration, Switzerland, other parties and the Taliban, who have demanded the return of billions of dollars in assets held in the US and elsewhere.

At the time of its establishment, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “This fund will protect and preserve the Afghan central bank reserves while making targeted disbursements to help stabilize Afghanistan’s economy and ultimately support its people and work to alleviate the worst effects of the humanitarian crisis.”

In June, a Taliban government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that while the group did not reject the concept of a trust fund, they opposed third-party control of the fund that would hold and disburse returned reserves.

US officials however said no money would go to Afghanistan’s central bank until it is “free of political interference”.