KABUL (Pajhwok): A former mayor of Zaranj, who was referred to the Nimroz Appellant Attorney General Office two years ago on corruption and embezzlement charges, is yet to be investigated, Pajhwok Afghan News findings show.
The former mayor is accused of receiving millions of afghanis from construction companies, wasting funds and distribution of government land to his relatives.
In a letter No. 434-266 dated July, 12, 2020 from the governor’s house to the Appellant Attorney General Office reads: “Based on reports and documents, Noor Rahman Hotak, the mayor of Zaranj, visited Khashroad district where he broke locks of municipal and land management offices and transferred all documents to Zaranj.”
Hotak transferred the documents at a time when the district mayor and the administrative chief were in Kabul, the letter said.
It added: “After returning from Kabul, the mayor of Khashroad reported the issue to the governor of Nimroz via letter No. 32, dated June 14, 2019. “Unfortunately, the letter was concealed before reaching the governor by the corrupt associates of the mayor. Thus the governor remains unaware of the situation.”
Pajhwok, however, has obtained a copy of the letter No. 32 (attached herewith).
The governor house wrote in a letter that he [Hotak] had distributed dozens of residential plots to his relatives, using the property of the Khashroad municipality.”
The letter revealed: “In block 207, eight residential plots were distributed to Suleiman, son of Ghulam Sarwar, the current administrative chief of Chahar Burjak district and husband of Hotak’s sister.
‘In block 206, 12 residential plots were distributed to Abdul Qahir, son of Atta Mohammad and nephew of Hotak, In block 225, two residential plots were given to Benyamin, son of Faiz Mohammad and nephew of Hotak.”
Additionally, 18 plots were allotted to Faiz Mohammad, son of Amir Mohammad and brother of Hotak. In block 223, 17 plots were allotted to Rawzia, daughter of Abdul Shakoor and wife of Hotak. In block 210, eight plots transferred to Abdul Rauf, son of Abdul Ghani, security guard of Hotak.’
Hotak also distributed several other land plots for free in Zaranj for 1.000 afghanis each to his sister and other relatives. (Relevant documents are attached herewith.
The former mayor, embezzling the municipality budget, purchased hundreds of acres of land in Kang district, near Nahr-i-Lashkari area. He allegedly prepared documents for this land in his mother’s name.
According to the letter, this action of the mayor reduced the of municipality budget to zero. For this reason, all administrative and service personnel of the municipality did not receive their salaries for more than three months.
The municipality also owes millions of afghanis to construction and road-building companies that worked for it.
In addition to stealing municipality funds, the official also withdrew the guarantee amounts of contracting companies from the bank. Unfortunately, the documents were kept hidden, the letter deplored.
The letter to Appellant Attorney General Office reads: “He (Hotak) has not marked his attendance since the first month of the solar year 1399 until now. (Copy attached).
“Therefore, about 28 documents of forgery, corruption, misuse of authority and other types of grafts by Hotak, the mayor of Zaranj, will be sent to you for investigation.”
Meanwhile, an official in the governor house, speaking on the condition of anonymity, charged Hotak with distributing land to his relative and embezzling large amounts of money.
Hotak was currently serving as head of the Serious Crimes Department in the western zone, he said, adding for this reason his case was not being investigated.
Speaking to Pajhwok, Hotak neither confirmed nor denied the distribution of plots to his relatives and embezzlement of millions of afghanis. He claimed having many documents that proved his innocence. But he did not provide them to Pajhwok.
Without naming anyone, he insisted he was victim of a conspiracy of some circles in Nimroz. He said the so-called circles opposed the construction of the Kamal Khan Dam and had also killed his brother.
He added: “I have presented the necessary documents. Thus I cannot say anything at the moment and I don’t want to prejudge the outcome. I may be blamed somewhere … Let courts do their job.”
With regard to his current job in the Serious Crimes Department in the western zone, Hotak said he had no government job and was pursuing his case.
But one of his family members confirmed that Hotak was currently working for the Serious Crimes Department in the western zone.
At the same time, Abdul Qadir Adel, head of urban planning and land management, told Pajhwok the brazen irregularities took place two years ago.
He added: “My relations with the then governor and the mayor himself were not good. And all this happened when I was not in Nimroz province.”
Adel said he was informed by one of his employees in Khashrod district and then he took action and formally highlighted the matter. But some individuals prevented the issue from becoming publicised.
Asked why there was mention of his name in the letter, he replied only collusion of the land management department was cited, which was nothing but a mistake.
Syed Wali Sultan, the former governor of Nimroz, told a press conference that the mayor of Zaranj was involved in massive corruption, including the waste of municipality finds, spending guarantees of several firms and executing livestock projects with the municipal budget.
Sultan charged: “He (Hotak) expended government funds on implementing a personal livestock project and buying horses. In not-so-distant past, he was a poor man like me.”
He also accused Hotak of unlawfully distributing many plots to his relatives and trying to brand his subordinates as corrupt in their absence.
A copy of the letter No. 474-302 dated July 27, 2020, which was obtained by Pajhwok, reads that Hotak has been fired from his position.
The letter says: “Based on complaints from the citizens of Zaranj about the municipality performance in cleaning the city, inappropriate behavior of the mayor and the non-distribution of land plots to the deserving people are the charges being probed by judicial institutions. So the dismissal of the mayor is necessary.”
Dismissal based on citizen complaints:
Pajhwok tried for one full week to discuss the issue of the mayor’s dismissal with the Nimroz governor’s media office. Although the officials concerned promised several times; they have not yet shared any details so far.
Mohammad Saber Ghafoori, head of the Appellant Attorney General Office, confirmed to Pajhwok receiving an official letter regarding the accusations against Hotak.
He said the case had been sent to the anti-corruption office, which would make a decision on it.
Pajhwok also contacted the spokesman for the Attorney General Office, but he did not provide any information on the issue.