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Young, Pretty and “Empowered”: Afghan bank worker runs off with $1.1 million

Interpol has issued a “Red Notice” against a former Afghan bank worker who is accused of stealing $1.1 million.

Shokofa Salehi, 22, reportedly disappeared in July of this year whilst working in the remittance department of a branch of Azizi Bank in Kabul.

Investigators say she is suspected of transferring the funds out of the bank’s head office and into the accounts of relatives with the assistance of up to nine other bank employees.

Azizi chief executive Inayatullah Fazli called the group a “Mafia”.

Afghan officials believe Salehi used fake documents under the name Samira to reach India after transferring the money; her current whereabouts are unknown.

Two suspects in the case have been detained in Dubai, senior Afghan police official Gen. Aminullah Amarkhail said, adding that he’s in touch with counterparts in Dubai and India for help tracking down Salehi and other suspects.

Amarkhail said Salehi’s parents were among the suspects, and are believed to have returned to Kabul after going with her to India.

Azizi Bank’s website says it began operating in 2006, and that it now has ‘a 1,500-plus strong team of employees and with a 20 per cent female work force is playing a quiet but effective role in women(‘s) emancipation and empowerment.’

It also calls itself ‘the bank you can trust.’

The Afghan banking sector has been accused of rampant corruption and for helping high ranking officials pilfer millions of dollars in international aid that continues to pour into the country.

In 2010, regulators seized Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s largest lender, amid allegations of severe levels of graft.

An independent report described Kabul Bank as being run like a Ponzi scheme with investigators alleging that nearly $900 million had disappeared into the coffers of relatives or associates of the bank’s management.

Banks in Afghanistan have also been targeted by Taliban militants and criminal gangs.

Not only are they prime targets for people seeking to steal money, they also are gathering places for many government employees seeking to make deposits or cash their paychecks, making them an ideal target for suicide bombings.

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