Afghani ex-commerce minister to be indicted for corruption

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's former commerce minister is poised to be indicted for allegedly overcharging the government nearly $20 million for fuel, a top prosecutor said Saturday while outlining some 20 cases involving high-ranking officials accused of corruption and misuse of power.
Deputy Attorney-General Rahmatullah Nazari told The Associated Press that Amin Farhang will be indicted in the next two weeks, making him the most senior government official referred so far to a special court set up to battle rampant graft and bribery in the Afghan government.
The court was established in recent months with the backing of the international community, which has criticized President Hamid Karzai for not doing enough to clean up corrupt practices in his administration. The issue has undermined public trust in Karzai's government and its efforts to win the loyalty of many Afghans and pull them away from the Taliban.
Farhang is accused of overcharging the Afghan government $19.5 million on 19 fuel contracts he signed with various nations, including Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, according to Nazari. Invoices prove the bills the former minister submitted to the Afghan government exceeded the amount paid for the fuel, the deputy prosecutor said.
Farhang, a longtime government official who last served as minister of commerce and industry, denied the allegations, calling them part of a "political conspiracy" against him.
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