KABUL (Pajhwok): At least 40 million afghanis of the Ministry of Urban Development and Land (MoUDL) has been stolen and 273.3 million afghanis were illegally paid to two companies for a stalled project.
The MoUDL confirms the theft of 40 million afghanis, but says the payment process of 273,342,000 afghanis has not been done in line with the law and an assessment should have been done before the payments to the companies.
Theft of 40m afghanis:
The MoUDL received a report on April 19 this year, which was sent to the finance and administrative department of the ministry.
According to the report, some cash was suspiciously withdrawn from three different bank accounts of the ministry in Pashtani Bank, but documents were not available with the department.
The report shows that more than 39.2 million afghanis was paid from the ministry’s bank account (1003360000614) to the construction companies named “Al-Taj, Taq and Khuzar” for retaining walls, Qasaba blocks project and tree plantation project.
Based on the report, Pashtani Bank has paid more than 19.5 million afghanis to Al-Taj representative Mursalin, more than 9.8 million afghanis to Khazar representative Asadullah and more than 9.8 million afs to Taq’s representative Mursalin.
However, according to the report, the companies, Al-Taj, Taq and Khazar, have no agreement with the finance directorate of housing project for the construction of retaining walls, networking, tree planting, and project of blocks in Qasaba area of Kabul.
“Pashtani Bank documents, cheques, bank statement and copies of IDs of companies’ representatives have been checked with the dates of implementation, but they have not been registered with the Department of Finance and Administrative of the ministry,” the report said.
Pajhwok obtained a cheque paper from Pashtani bank for the 40 million afghanis in which the money was withdrawn from the bank.
According to a report by the Ministry’s Internal Audit Department, Abdullah Shinwari, a housing project database specialist, and Najibullah Noori, a payroll manager, who are not currently working with the ministry and Asadullah, a representative of Khazar company and Mursalin of Al-Taj company should be brought to justice.
The report showed that about 40 million afghanis from the ministry’s bank account had been illegally paid by unknown individuals to Mursalin and Asadullah against the company’s referrals.
The source added the ministry officials also admitted that they were unaware of the payment to the companies, so the case has been referred to the judicial authorities for further investigation.
Based on the audit report, the payment references for construction of retaining walls and planting of trees in Kabul city Qasaba project blocks and contracts were not available with Al-Taj, Taq and Khazar companies and no documents regarding the amount paid were not existed with the housing projects directorate.
Ahmad Massoud Wardak, director of housing projects at the ministry, said they were also suspicious of the money payment and therefore they referred the matter to the Attorney General Office for investigation.
Pajhwok tried to contact the three companies for comment but could not reach them.
Payment of 273 million afs without going through the required steps:
About nine years ago, MoUDL signed contracts for construction of base blocks in Nangarhar with the New Spin Ghar and Zak economic advisory group and the work on the project also began, but it was stopped a year later.
The money for the project was paid to the companies a few months ago amid criticism about the quality of the work.
According to the report, the department of housing project said that on December 21, 2020, in compliance with the order of the ministry about 213,164,174 afghanis were paid to the “New Spin Ghar” company.
The source said all documents were not available about the process of the money and no needed procurement processes had been involved. According to the report, a team should have investigated the issue before the money was given.
Based on the report, 60,178,778 Afghanis were paid to Zak Economic Consultation Group on February 23 but there were no any documents regarding the payment of the money with the habitat projects office.
Copy of documents show that the documents are signed by urban development minister Mahmod Karzai, former deputy urban development minister Khatira Sadat and habitat program’s database specialist Abdullah Shinwari.
The names of Ahmad Faisal Elham, financial manager of the habitat projects and BabrakZaheri and MassoudWardak, financial employees, are also mentioned in these documents but they have not signed the documents.
An official of the Ministry of Urban Development and Land, who wished to go unnamed, said that the money had been given to companies without the ministry’s procurement department approval.
He claimed that the bank cheques were signed by a person in the ministry named Abdullah, who has escaped from the country in support of Mohammad Ghawsi, head of the ministry’s staff and the ministry’s legal advisor, Momin Zia Badakh. However, the minister in a meeting said that his signature was faked in the document.
The source said that Zak Group and Spin Ghar companies started work on the project in Jalalabad city years ago and had implemented some of its parts, but the implementation process has stopped for years and the mentioned companies demand 273 million Afghanis for resuming work on it.
This issue which has not been anticipated in the law should be referred to the cabinet before the money was provided to the companies, he said.
However, the official said that the ministry provided the money to the companies without referring the project to the cabinet, which he added, ‘paved way for corruption’.
However, the project manager, Ahmad Massoud Wardak denied the claims as baseless and said that transaction of the money belonged to the Ministry of Finance and the head of the ministry staff and legal advisor had no involvement in the case.
According to the report of Internal Investigation Department of the Urban Development Ministry, companies’ applications which ordered by organs concerned, invoice of companies, copies of contracts, companies’ licenses and letter of the procurement department were important documents which first signed by the database manager of the project, then the project manager before they referred to general financial and administrative director and minister for approval.
Transaction papers and bills should be referred to the bank. But the source says that the mentioned persons were not involved in providing the money.
According to the report, there are no any documents about the payment of money to the two companies for the project with the office of habitat project, but only a single paper is seen on the table of Abdullah Shinwari which was about some transactions from Pashtany Bank.
The official said that the ministry had appointed him for assessing the project last year and if the delegation found violations in the project, then the case will be referred to judicial organs.
The ministry’s report, which quoted the procurement department, read that progress in the implementation of the project by the two companies and then suspension of the project directly linked to the project’s management, but the department was unaware about the issue and had no any documents.
However, Ahmad Massoud Wardak said that the project was contracted in 2014 but it was suspended after a year following a presidential order which he said was the reason the money of the company was unpaid but the ministry recently paid it.
He said that the money should have been given to the company from customers who paid their installments for their plots in Jalalabad city and by considering to the progress of work, but customers did not participate and that was the reason the bills were referred to the ministry.
“It is unclear if the given money is too much or less, or based on what work done, so a delegation would be appointed to go to the area to evaluate the issue,” he said.
Wardak said that the source of the money given to the companies was known and the companies referred the documents to the ministry after approved by the urban development department of Nangarhar, but the money’s transaction process was not according to the procedure.
Pajhwok tried contact officials of Nawi Spin Ghar Company and Zak Economic Consultative Group for their comments on the regard, but no contact was established with them.
A letterfrom the Ministry of Urban Development and Land shows that the matter has been shared with the Attorney General Office for legal action.
Spokesman of AGO, JamshidRasouli confirmed that the case had been shared with them. However, he did not provide further details.
This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.