US sanctions target Afghan money laundering

February 19, 2011 01:24

KABUL, Afghanistan — Stepping up its pressure on corruption in Afghanistan, the United States on Friday sanctioned a major Afghan money-exchange outfit suspected of laundering billions of dollars in drug money.

The US Treasury Department sanctioned the New Ansari Money Exchange, which it says is at the center of a network of individuals, money-exchange houses and other businesses operating in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates.

US officials and others in the international community have been pushing President Hamid Karzai to crack down on corruption in his government and in its financial and business sectors. The near collapse of the Kabul Bank, the nation's largest private financial institution, because of questionable lending practices, as well as petty bribery schemes throughout the government have hurt the Karzai administration's efforts to woo the loyalty of the public from the Taliban insurgents.

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