Jamahir Anwari, the Minister of Refugees and Repatriations (MoRR), was summoned by the Lower House on Saturday to answer questions regarding allegations that implicated him in corruption. He ended up leaving the chamber unscathed, with MPs satisfied by his explanations.
Anwari came to the Lower House standing accused of embezzling money designated for MoRR programs, giving away jobs and land for personal gain and signing unsanctioned agreements with foreign governments that caused Afghan migrants to be wrongfully deported.
All together the, MPs said the Minister was suspected of accepting a total of 150 million USD in exchange for distrbuting land to wealthy immigrants. He was said to have funneled significant amounts of money into family bank accounts.
“You have asked one of the donors to transfer the money to the account of one of your wives named Shazia,” Herat MP Naheed Farid said to Anwari on Saturday.
“Money allocated for the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations’ electricity budget was transferred to the private bank account of your son Abdullah,” said Nafisa Sultani, an MP from Ghazni.
However, Anwari claimed that the money transferred into his family’s personal accounts, which he said was significantly less than what he was suspected of, was used for legitimate purposes associated with the Ministry.
“In 2010, the amount of 1,250 USD was transferred to the private account and used to purchase electronic supplies,” he claimed. “If a Minister was going to embezzle, he wouldn’t embezzle 1,250 dollars.”
MPs were especially heated about the possibility that Anwari had abused the power of his office in signing unapproved agreements with foreign governments that permitted the forceful, and unwarranted, deportation of Afghan migrants.
“There is evidence that you have signed agreements with western countries in return for personal favors that forced Afghan immigrants to return to Afghanistan,” Kabul MP Shukria Barekzai said.
Anwari outright denied those claims, however, and said he had signed ten agreements that were all done in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA). He said none of the agreements included the forceful return of Afghan immigrants.
But the number of young Afghans crowded outside the National Assembly building on Saturday begged to differ. Demonstrators claimed to have been deported by foreign governments on account of Anwari’s negligence and malfeasance.
“We were forced to leave Canada, and it was all a result of agreements signed by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations,” said Hassan, one of those demonstrating outside Parliament on Saturday.
Nevertheless, despite all the complaints and apparent evidence against him, Anwari left the Lower House on Saturday still in his position as Minister, with nothing more than suspicion against him. The MPs were reportedly satisfied with the answers he gave them.
If Anwari was to be found responsible of the crimes he is alleged to have committed as Minister, it would likely be the most high-level case of corruption seen in 2013. In October, an investigation into suspected the embezzlement activities of Minister of Information and Culture Sayed Makhdoom Raheen turned up inconclusive.