Swiss-based Afghan Trust Fund makes $34 million in interest

The Swiss-based trust fund holding $3.5 billion of Afghanistan’s frozen assets earned $34 million in interest at the end of January, bringing the total interest earned so far to $70 million, a member of the Trust said.

Shah Mohammad Mehrabi, one of four board members of the Afghan Trust Fund in Switzerland, said that $3.5 billion of assets – plus two lots of interest, $36 million and $34 million – is in the Afghan Trust Fund in Switzerland.

“$3.5 billion, plus $36 million and $34 million interest was earned through to the end of January 2023 and should be used to achieve monetary stability and reduce the volatility of the Afghan currency,” Mehrabi said.

Meanwhile, the trustees of the Afghan Fund made decisive decisions at its second meeting recently.

Mehrabi, who is also the head of the Audit Committee of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, said the board has asked for external assistance to cover the operational expenses of the fund.

“The board agreed to seek external funding to cover the Afghan fund’s operational expenses. At the same time, they decided to allocate a specific portion of the fund’s annual interest earning towards essential operational costs,” he added.

“The board discussed the hiring process for the executive secretary post and identified candidates for that particular position,” Mehrabi said.

“They also agreed to begin recruiting for the Afghan Advisory Committee and explore the establishment of an international advisory committee. The board also discussed the necessary steps to disburse the funds and potential options for achieving monetary stability through this disbursement,” Mehrabi added.

Siyar Qureshi, an economic analyst, said that the interest earned on the Afghan funds must be used to stabilize the country’s currency.

“The $3.5 billion in Afghan assets, which is currently kept in a fund in Switzerland, should be managed in a way that can be spent on the stability of the Afghan currency,” he said.

In 2022, the United States, in coordination with its international partners, primarily Switzerland, established the Afghanistan Trust Fund to hold frozen assets.

A number of economic analysts are optimistic that the remaining $3.5 billion being held by the US government will also be transferred into the fund account after a New York federal court ruled last week that victims of the 9/11 attacks had no right to the money.

There are four members of the Afghanistan Trust Fund Board, including two Afghan economic experts. They are Anwar al-Haq Ahadi, former minister of trade; Shah Mohammad Mehrabi, the current chairman of the Central Bank Audit Committee; the United States Ambassador to Switzerland, and a representative of the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.