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The Scandal in Kabul Bank

From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report. A court in Afghanistan recently sentenced former leaders of the country's first private bank to prison. The two men were found guilty of crimes that led to the failure of the Kabul Bank in 2010. Some people say the five-year prison sentences were not enough.

The bank failure led to a financial crisis in Afghanistan. A special three-judge committee of the Afghan Supreme Court decided the case. The court found Kabul Bank's former chairman, Sherkhan Farnood, guilty of stealing $278 million. Former chief executive officer Khalilullah Ferozi was found guilty of stealing $530 million. The judge ordered the two men to repay the stolen money.

The former bank officials have been under house arrest for more than a year. They were among 21 Kabul Bank and government employees who were tried and found guilty. The other defendants were given shorter sentences. All have the right to appeal. The case was considered a test of Afghanistan's new legal system and the government's will to fight corruption. The special court did not charge several other influential people linked to the bank as shareholders or borrowers.

These people included a brother of President Hamid Karzai and a brother of the first vice president.The Afghan government rescued the bank and renamed it the New Kabul Bank. Nations that help support Afghanistan, led by the United States, have promised billions of dollars in aid after NATO forces withdraw by the end of 2014. But they are demanding that the government bring corruption under control.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 08Mar2013)