By Zarmina Mohammadi
The government in an unexpected move on Wednesday inaugurated the 'Smart City Township' Project which will see the Kabul Bank defaulters to take part in the investment in a bid the government says to make the debtors able to pay their obligations instead of being behind the prison bars.
Khalilullah Ferozi – one of the main factors behind the collapse of Kabul Bank – shares a big part in the project worth $900 million USD.
Ferozi was sentenced to 15 years in jail in a court verdict last November after he failed to pay his debts.
Kabul Bank CEO Khalilullah Ferozi, right, and Chairman Sherkhan Farnood listen during a news conference in Kabul. According to New Yorker, in the late nineteen-nineties, working for the legendary anti-Taliban commander Ahmed Shah Massoud, Ferozi sold emeralds mined in the crags of the Panjshir Valley and used the hard currency to pay an obscure Russian company to print truckloads of Afghan currency. In this way, he helped underwrite Massoud’s movement. (Photo: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)
However president's legal adviser, Abdul Ali Mohammadi, said at the inaugural ceremony that the government's recent plan is aimed at helping debtors of Kabul Bank to start their businesses in order to repay their debts.
"If they [defaulters] remain behind the bars or live outside the country, they will be in pain and people's obligation will remain on them too," he said.
According to the adviser, the project motivates the debtors to make investments and repay their obligations.
In addition, Mohammadi appreciated Ferozi for taking part in the project.
Also present at the event was Ahmad Zia Massoud, President Ashraf Ghani's special representative for reforms and good governance. He called the program effective in recovering Kabul Bank's stolen money.
"Khalilullah Ferozi will pay his debts through the money he will earn from the project," Massoud said.
The move has however led to mounting criticism of the government.
The economists, meanwhile, accused the government of lifting the sentence of the prisoners and including them to government projects.
"Giving projects to such people will be the biggest mistake again because they have already proved that they are not trust-worthy," said Siyar Quraishi, head of Afghanistan's Union of Private Banks.
Kabul Bank, once the country's largest financial institution, was badly shaken and collapsed in 2010 in one of the largest schemes in the country's banking history.
The former chairman of Kabul Bank, Sherkhan Farnood, and CEO Ferozi were sacked from their positions and arrested over the embezzlement of more than $900 million USD in cash and assets.