FIRST ON FOX: Afghan President-in-exile Ashraf Ghani must be brought to justice and face criminal charges of embezzlement if he indeed fled the besieged country with sports bags full of cash destined for the Afghan people, according to House Oversight Committee Republicans.
Ghani hastily abandoned Afghanistan earlier this month as the Taliban rose to power. He presented himself to the United Arab Emirates, which accepted the president on humanitarian grounds.
House Republicans are sounding the alarm over reports that Ghani left Afghanistan with “sports bags full of cash totaling $ 169 million.”
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In a letter first obtained by Fox News to Attorney General Merrick Garland, lawmakers cite reports that “Ghani had in fact stolen so much money with him when he fled Afghanistan that everything did not fit in his helicopter and was forced to leave money on the tarmac “.
Rep. James Comer, the top Republican on the oversight committee, and Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., Sent letters Tuesday to Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting a briefing no later than August 31 to find out whether Ghani is in possession of US taxpayer money and whether the US government is seeking criminal charges against him. Justice Department officials told Fox News on Thursday that the Department was reviewing the letter.
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“If this is true, it was not the dignified exit of a benevolent head of state, but that of a coward and a crook,” lawmakers wrote to Blinken in a letter obtained for the first time. by Fox News. “The United States must do everything in its power to seize any illegally obtained funds that have been corruptly embezzled by President Ghani. If he misappropriated funds from their destination, the United States should bring him to justice.
Lawmakers say corrupt officials of foreign governments cannot be allowed to personally enrich themselves with American money meant to protect the Afghan people.
“This is especially the case when President Ghani’s reckless and cowardly actions likely contributed to the speed with which the Taliban took control of the country and toppled the Afghan government,” they wrote.
For his part, Ghani has denied running away with millions of dollars in cash. In a video clip from the United Arab Emirates, Ghani claimed he left with the clothes on his back to avoid bloodshed.
“I was forced to leave Afghanistan with a set of traditional clothes, a waistcoat and the sandals I was wearing,” Ghani said.
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A State Department spokesperson told Fox News it carefully monitors the spending of any funds it has appropriated and takes any credible accusations about the misallocation of funds “seriously.”
“We will not comment on specific allegations or reviews that may be currently underway,” the spokesperson said.
Jake Gibson of Fox News contributed to this report.