MI6 and the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)  is at the centre of a bribery row after it emerged that that they have given tens of millions of dollars in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for more than ten years.

The so-called “ghost money” was reportedly given to buy ‘influence’ in the country and has sparked speculation that it was exploited by Afghan officials and those working for the Taliban.

Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times: “We called it ‘ghost money’. It came in secret, and it left in secret.”

But there is little evidence that the money bought the influence that the CIA were seeking and was instead reported to have contributed to corruption and empowered warlords – which effectively prevented the US military from leaving Afghanistan.

Another official was reported as saying: “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan. was the United States.”

According to the investigation, uncovered by the New York Times, the money helped to finance many of the corrupt officials and crime syndicates with ties to the drug trade and, in some cases, the Taliban. The result, American and Afghan officials said, is that the agency has effectively helped to bolster many of those groups that American diplomats and law enforcement agents have struggled unsuccessfully to dismantle, leaving the government in the pockets of crime bosses.

Iran has also been known to give cash to the Afghan president in 2010 – although it attracted heavy criticism from American officials as a result who pointed to the payments as evidence of an aggressive Iranian campaign to buy influence and poison Afghanistan’s relations with the United States.

Afghan officials told the newspaper that there was no evidence that Karzai personally received any of the money and the cash was handled by his National Security Council, it was reported.

This money was also not subject to the same restrictions that it’s former aid money or assistance programmes are subject to, according to the New York Time report.

Yama Torabi, the director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan said that it was still unclear as to what the money was used for.
“As a result, we don’t know what was the amount of money that was given, what it was used for and if there was any corruption involved. Money when it is unchecked can be abused and this looks like one. In addition, it can be potentially used to corrupt politicians and political circles, but there is no way to know this unless there is a serious investigation into it,” he told the Guardian.

The CIA declined to comment on the report and the US State Department did not immediately comment. The New York Times also did not publish any comment from Karzai or his office.

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