Afghanistan’s biggest private bank was a massive fraud scheme from its founding, with £540 million ($861 million) diverted to a clique of beneficiaries including the president’s brother, a British-funded audit has found.

Ben Farmer

By , Kabul

2:57PM GMT 27 Nov 2012

Kabul Bank used deposits to make huge fraudulent loans to a small circle of shareholders, political figures and their companies, with little expectation they would be repaid.

Staff were ordered to forge documents to create proxy loans under fictional names, or the names of cleaners and drivers. Millions were also plundered by shareholders in fraudulent expenses, rent and purchases.

At the same time 10 airline pilots were on the payroll, apparently to help smuggle vast sums of cash out of the country to Dubai via Kabul airport.

New details of the scale of fraud have been disclosed in a forensic audit of the bank, which needed a bail-out to survive when the wrongdoing emerged in 2010.

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