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Looted Lender for Sale as Afghanistan Seeks Buyer for Kabul Bank

  • Previous owners embezzled $825 million using fake loans
  • `It's a risky investment in a country like Afghanistan'
A Kabul Bank branch is photographed in 2010. U.S. investigators say the bank has lost $65 million over the past six years.

A Kabul Bank branch is photographed in 2010. U.S. investigators say the bank has lost $65 million over the past six years.

Photographer: Shah Marai/AFP via Getty Images

For sale: One bank with 114 branches in war-torn country; defrauded out of almost all its money; occasional target of terrorists.

Ready to bid? That’s what Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan, is hoping. He’s seeking a buyer for Kabul Bank, once the country’s largest. The government took it over in 2010 after its owners were accused of embezzling $825 million using fake loans and spending it on, among other things, 11 villas in Dubai and an airline they used to smuggle cash there. The privatization is a test for Ghani, who wants to show the foreign donors who provide most of his budget that he’s committed to fighting corruption.