Controversial government documents obtained by Kabul Now show that Afghan leaders—the incumbent president Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah—have misappropriated billions of afghanis from the 91 Code, a government policy code used in urgent time.

A series of government documents obtained by Kabul Now shows that the leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG), Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah have misappropriated a large amount money from the 91 Code, a government policy code. Documents suggest that President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah have issued 280 decrees to authorize money withdrawal from the 91 Code. In 97 separate official decrees, the two leaders have authorized withdrawal of 20 million afghanis, which have been given to government officials and individuals who look to have received it as ‘cash aid’.

Mr. Abdullah has issued 28 decrees to authorize withdrawal of 14,111,000 afghanis while Mr. Ghani has issued 69 decrees, authorizing withdrawal of 14, 982,000 afghanis under justification of ‘cash aid’ for identified and unidentified individuals.

Government documents indicate that both the President and Chief Executive have issued a number of additional decrees to authorize money withdrawal from the 91 Code under numerous justifications such as house and office building rents, medical treatment expenses, travel expenditures, flight ticket payments, purchase of cars, travel expenditures of government officials and expenditures of other private organizations.

The National Directorate of Security, the Administrative Office of the President, the Office of Chief Executive, Office of Chief of Staff for the President and Office of National Security Council of Afghanistan are the organizations that have received the largest amounts of money from the 91 Code.

The National Directorate of Security

In 20 separate decrees, President Ashraf Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 1,035,980,000 afghanis from the 91 Code and transferred it to budgetary account of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the country’s spy agency which has been the prime spendthrift, receiving the biggest amount of money from the policy code, 91. It is not clear how this amount of money have been spent. Only in two separate decrees, money taken out from the policy code have been designated to financing ‘people uprising forces’ and ‘securing a highway in Farah province’. In six separate decrees issued by the President, the purpose of spending money has been justified as ‘especial expenditure, ‘confidential expenditure’ and ‘operation expenditure’.

In April 2019, in two separate cases, the President issued decrees to authorize withdrawal of 92,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to be transferred into the 210 Code of the NDS. In decree no 1282, issued on September 25, 2019, President Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 18,500,000 afghanis from the 91 Code for ‘operation expenditures’.

This comes while an assessment by the financial commission of the Afghan parliament shows that the ministries of interior and defense along with the NDS have spent more amount of their appropriated budgets than legally allowed in operation budgets. According to article no 15 of regulation of the 1397 fiscal year, transferring money from codes of budget into operation codes is legally prohibited.  

On December 03, 2019, the financial commission of the Afghan parliament announced that around 2,700,000,000 afghanis from ‘operation budget’ were transferred into the NDS, in contrary to regulations.

Table expenditure spent by NDS

The Administrative Office of the President

In 141 separate decrees, President Ashraf Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 923,089,978 afghanis from the 91 Code and transferred it into the account of the Administrative Office of the President (AOP). This amount of money has been taken under justifications of paying ‘cash aid’ to individuals and payments of house and office building rents, electricity bills, office expenditures, travel accommodations, flight tickets, medical treatment expenses, purchase of cars for government officials, bonus salaries, cash gifts, expense of conferences, security expenses of private residences of government officials and travel expenditures of government delegations.

On March 18, 2018, President Ghani issued decree number 32 to authorize withdrawal of 80,900,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to purchase an armored Land Cruiser for the Chief of Staff of the Second Vice President. Also, in decree no 3547, issued on February 09, 2019, the President has authorized withdrawal of 30,760,000 afghanis from the 91 Code for travel expenditures of the Second Vice President to France. In decree No 865, issued on March 01, 2018, he has authorized withdrawal of 10,440,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover house rent of Mohammad Daud Sultanzoy, a senior advisor for the president.        

Documents indicate that President Ashraf Ghani, in decree no 630, issued on June 25, 2018, has authorized withdrawal of 805,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay electricity bill and house rent of Afzal Loden, another advisor for the president. In decree no 630, issued on May 25, 2018, the President has authorized withdrawal of 769,500 afghanis from the 91 Code for office expenses of a senior advisor of the president on public affairs.

In decree no 1288, issued on August 06, 2018, President Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 2,400,000 afghanis from the same account to cover office expense and house rent of Mohammad Yusuf Nuristani.

In decree No 971, issued on August 03, 2018, the President authorized withdrawal of 2,587,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover medical treatment of the Second Vice President.

Decree no 1514, issued on September 04, 2018, Mr. Ghani authorized withdrawal of 91,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover two-way fight ticket of Khawaja Shahedullah son of Khawaja Zainuddin to Turkey. 

Table of expenditure by AOP

Office of Chief of Staff for the President

The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has syphoned 259,431,488 afghanis from the 91 Code to the Office of Chief of Staff for the President (OCSP). Documents indicate that this amount, withdrawn in 24 separate decrees, have been spent to cover travel expenses, medical treatments, ‘cash aid’, travel expenditures of the First Lady, salaries of newly employed staffs and other unknown expenditures.

For instance, in decree no 961, issued on March 05, 2018, the President has authorized withdrawal of 1,700,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover travel expense of First Lady’s trip to France. In decree no 764, Mr. Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 5,270,000 afghanis from the same account for purpose of paying ‘cash aid to 472 individuals from different spectrums of society’.  The President, in decree no 1048, issued on August 13, 2018, has authorized withdrawal of 2,600,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to buy forty cows to be sacrificed in a religious festival in Kandahar. In decree no 1383, issued on September 20, 2018, the President authorized withdrawal of 1,261,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover travel expenditure of Sayed Jalal Karim, the Afghan ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Table of expenditures by OCSP

The Office of Chief Executive

Government documents obtained by Kabul Now show that the Office of Chief Executive (OCE) has spent 350,721,219 afghanis from the 91 Code. Issuing 43 separate decrees, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 350,721,219 afghanis under justifications of ‘cash aid for the needy people’, bonus payments for employees, flight tickets for employees, travel expenses of the Chief Executive, the Second Deputy of Chief Executive and other high-ranking government officials.

In decree no 2205, issued on November 22, 2019, Mr. Abdullah has authorized withdrawal of 34,218,000 afghanis to cover ‘extra expenses’ of his travels. For instance, in decree no 749, issued on May 17, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 11,900,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover ‘extra expense’ of an Afghan delegation-led by the Chief Executive on an official visit to Italy.

On May 23-26, 2018, a delegation led by the Chief Executive Officer spent over 10,000,000 afghanis during an official visit to London, Britain. In decree no 1588, issued on August 19, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 5,0400,000 afghanis to cover travel expenditure of Chief Executive Officer to India. In decree no 3339, issued on February 25, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 1,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover travel expenses of the Second Deputy of the Chief Executive Officer to Iran.

In decree no 3362, issued on February 26, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 100,000 afghanis to compensate for the family of ‘Martyred Mohammad Ali son of Mirza’, an employee of the ministry of transport. In two separate decrees, numbered 575 and 3072, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 90,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay bonus payments to the OCE employees.

In decree no 3344, issued on February 26, 2018, the OCE authorized withdrawal of 200,485 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay bonus payment to Sayed Omer Sabor, the head of passport. Also in decree no 3330, issued on February 20, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 2,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover expense of anniual anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari. Also in decree no 3459, issued on March 06, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 1,000,000 afghanis to cover expense of the 23th anniversary of Abdul Ali Mazari.

The Office of Chief Executive, in decree no 2562, issued on December 13, 2017, has authorized withdrawal of 6,250,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay to individuals who came from provinces to visit Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive Officer. Documents show that Mr. Abdullah, in separate decrees, has withdrawn millions of afghanis from the 91 Code under justifications of ‘cash aid to needy people’.

In decree no 1689, issued on June 28, 2018, the OCE has authorized withdrawal of 214,840 afghanis from the 91 Code and transferred it into the 21 Code of the Office of Chief Executive and also to cover the round trip flight ticket of Qorah Bag Ayzadyar and other ‘needy people’.

Following the 2014 disputed presidential election, the National Government of Unity was established after a deal was brokered by the then US Secretary of State John Kerry. According to agreement, the Office of Chief Executive was allowed to use 30 percent of its expenses from the 91 Code. As per the agreement, the OCE could use 390,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code in 1397 (solar year).  

In 1397 fiscal year, the Afghan parliamentarians designated 1,300,000,000 afghanis to the 91 Code. But the Afghan ministry of finance, under directive by the President, syphoned nearly 1,700,000,000 into the 91 Code during 1397 fiscal year. According to the ministry of finance report to the Afghan parliament, the total payment from the 91 Code reached 3,020,000,000 afghanis.    

Table of expenditures by OCE

Office of the National Security Council

According to documents, in 16 separate decrees, President Ashraf Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 195,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code for Office of the National Security Council (ONSC). This amount of money has been paid to conflict resolution commission of the Kochis (nomads) and Ulema Council of Afghanistan.

It is notable that the Afghan MPs criticize the government for having spent 125,000,000 afghanis on conflict resolution commission of the Kochis.  

Documents obtained by Kabul Now shows that in 12 separate decrees the President has authorized money withdrawal from the 91 Code for the conflict resolution commission of the Kochis. In four separate decrees, he has authorized withdrawal of money from the same code to cover salaries paid to members of Ulema Council of Afghanistan. 

For instance, in decree no 416, issued on April 29, 2018, Mr. Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 19,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to be transferred to codes of 210 and 22o of the ONSC to cover payments of Ulema Council of Afghanistan.

Table of expenditures by NSC

The Ministry of Interior

The Afghan President, in four separate decrees, has authorized withdrawal of 142,600,000 afghanis from the 91 Code for the Ministry of Interior (MoI) for the purpose of purchasing house for families of victims of national police.

For instance, in decree no 3331, the President has authorized withdrawal of 6,700,000 afghanis from the same policy code to purchase an apartment for a victim named Toryali Obidyani. In other case, he has authorized withdrawal of 3,450,000 afghanis for purpose of buying house for three victims of the National Afghan Police. There are no details about the names and identities of the victims. 

President Ashraf Ghani, in decree no 1697, has authorized withdrawal of 131,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to be transferred into MoI’s budget. It not clear for what purpose this amount has be taken out.

Uncategorized expenditures in government organizations

A total of 108,500,000 afghanis have been withdrawn from the 91 policy code under directive by Mr. Ghani. According to documents, this amount has been paid to the following government organizations: The Independent Directorate of Local Governance, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Borders and Tribal Affairs, the Afghan parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports, National Radio and Television of Afghanistan, the Attorney General’s Office, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Transport, the Supreme Audit Office, the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations.

The President, in decree no 3438, issued on February 21, 2018, has authorized withdrawal of 15,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover expenditure of ancient Nawroz festival in Balkh. In decree no 1502, issued on December 03, 2018, he has authorized withdrawal of 3,650,000 afghanis from the 91 Code for erecting national Afghan flag in Jalal Abad city of Nangarhar province.

In decree no 40, issued on March 12, 2018, President Ashraf Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 10,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay private construction companies contracted to build small bridges and gutters in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz.

In decree no 1408, issued on September 21, 2018, the President authorized withdrawal of 7,000,000 from the same code to cover expense of national conference of governors. In decree no 3513, issued on February 18, 2018, he has authorized withdrawal of 350,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay aid money to ‘martyred and wounded individuals.’

In decree no 3153, issued on January 19, 2018, he has authorized withdrawal of 1,042,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover medical treatment of Mir Wali Khan Himat, an Afghan MP. In decree no 486, the President has authorized withdrawal of 9,180,000 afghanis from the same policy code to pay the rent of two houses of the chairman of Afghan parliament. In decree no 736, issued on January 08, 2018, he has authorized withdrawal of 7,000,000 afghanis from the same policy code to cover expenditures of election in General Directorate Physical Education and Sports.

According to decrees no 566 and 306 issued by Mr. Ghani, 50,000 afghanis have been spent in the Ministry of Information and Culture and 900,000 have been spent in the Ministry of Public Health. It is not clear for what purposes the above mentioned amounts have been spent. In another case, the President has authorized withdrawal of 40,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to pay ‘cash aid’ to Abdul Hamid, an employee at the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations. In decree no 659, issued on December 24, 2019, Mr. Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 500,000 afghanis from the same policy code to pay as cash aid to Ahmad Jawid Mujaddadi, an employee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In decree no 1688, issued on September 27, 2017, President Ashraf Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 1,236,000 afghanis from the same policy code to pay round trip ticket of a-seven-member government delegation. In decree no 800, issued on January 26, 2018, he has authorized withdrawal of 850,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to cover fight ticket of a delegation from the Attorney General’s Office to Saudi Arabia.

In decree no 304, issued on April 13, 2017, Mr. Ghani has authorized withdrawal of 3,000,000 afghanis from the 91 Code to give bonus payment to employees of National Radio Television of Afghanistan.

Table of expenditures by different government organizations

Who are accountable?

A review of government document shows that over 3,000,000,000 afghanis withdrawn from the 91 Code have been spent for multiple purposes by the government organizations but the Afghan parliamentarians are cynical, saying the government has spent more than the amount designated to be spent from the same code. The total budget in the 91 Code in the 1397 fiscal year approved by the Afghan parliament was 1,300,000,000 afghanis but the Ministry of Finance, under directive by the President, syphoned 1,720,000,000 afghanis into this code.

Mohammad Azim Muhsini, an Afghan MP who chairs the financial commission of the parliament, says the Afghan ministry of finance has violated the law. On the contrary officials at the ministry say that the President is authorized to amend budgets in the 91 Code.

On November 19, 2019, the Afghan MPs stated that the Ministry of Finance had either failed or avoided providing detailed reports about payments used from the 91 Code. They said both the President and the Chief Executive Officer had ‘embezzled’ billions of afghanis. The MPs say Afghan leaders have committed ‘national treason.’

Dawa Khan Minapal, a deputy spokesperson for the President, told Kabul Now that the government, even if for personal payments, has spent money from the 91 Code to consolidate government authority.  

Despite repeated calls by Kabul Now, the Office of Chief Executive refused to comment on the issue.  

The question is not whether Afghan government leaders are constitutionally allowed to use money from urgent government policy code, instead concerns are centered on why and how they have misappropriated billions of money.     

Corruption is a monster, though widely condemned, makes its way through all national organizations in the country often with impunity, and despite shouts accountability remains an unending national obsession in Afghanistan.                

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