By Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Monday it put sanctions on two former Afghan officials and 44 related entities for a corruption scheme in which they allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in U.S. government funds meant for Afghan security forces.
The Treasury named the two as Mir Rahman Rahmani, who served in parliament before the Afghan government collapsed in 2021 when U.S. forces withdrew and the Taliban took over, and his son Ajmal Rahmani, another legislator nicknamed “Armored Ajmal” for his business selling bulletproof vehicles to the Kabul elite.
“Through their Afghan companies, the Rahmanis perpetrated a complex procurement corruption scheme resulting in the misappropriation of millions of dollars from U.S. Government-funded contracts that supported Afghan security forces,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.
The sanctions, imposed one day after Human Rights Day, block U.S. assets of those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those who engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit with sanctions.
The sanctions come under an executive order that builds on and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.
In its statement, the Treasury described several alleged schemes under which the Rahmanis enriched themselves.
It accused them of rigging bids for contracts to provide fuel to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), artificially inflating prices.
“In 2014, several families involved in the fuel business, including the Rahmanis, colluded to drive up the price of fuel on U.S.-funded contracts by more than $200 million and eliminate competitor bids,” the Treasury Department said.
In another scheme, it accused them of fraudulently importing and selling tax free fuel and also of under-delivering fuel they were under contract to supply.
“After bribing their way into the Afghan Parliament, the Rahmanis used their official positions to perpetuate their corrupt system,” the Treasury added.
The Treasury also sanctioned 44 companies, 23 of them German, eight Cypriot, six Emirati, two Afghan, two Austrian, two Dutch and one Bulgarian.
Separately, the White House issued a proclamation expanding the U.S. government’s authority to limit the entry of foreigners involved in significant corruption as well as their family members.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Alison Williams and Richard Chang)