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article imageAfghan bank clerks rob their own bank of $1.4 million and run

By Megan Hamilton     Feb 22, 2015 in World
Kabul - Bank clerks in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province may have stolen as much as 81 million Afghanis ($1.4 million) from the country's central bank when they raided their own bank and fled, said one official on Saturday.
Surveillance cameras showed that the bank's vault had been emptied, but investigators are waiting to gain access before they can confirm the total missing, the official said, according to Reuters.
"Yesterday we could only open one of the treasury's doors," Fazel Ahmad Azimi, the central bank director for southwestern Afghanistan told Reuters. "We hope to open the next one today."
Afghanistan's teetering banking system is rife with weak regulations and it hasn't fully recovered from a 2010 scandal after a bank collapsed and triggered a financial crisis.
The country came within a hair's breadth of being excised from the global financial system last June after passing last-minute laws meant to crack down on illegal use of its banks, Foreign Policy reports. The near implosion means that Afghanistan was very nearly blacklisted — alongside Iran and North Korea — by an intergovernmental organization that pressures countries to act responsibly to oversee banks to prevent them from being used by drug cartels, corrupt politicians, and terrorists.
At least three employees were implicated in the robbery, including the director of the branch director in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, Azimi said, according to the Star Tribune. Security camera footage shows that the bank's vault door was opened with fake keys by the branch manager accompanied by two other staff members, he added.
The robbery became apparent after a delegation from the central bank arrived to transfer some of the funds. The employees implicated in this are believed to have fled to Pakistan, Azimi said.
The branch director is said to have been an employee of the bank for nine years, and the other two employees implicated in the robbery are relatives. One is the man's son, while the other is his brother-in-law, The Mirror reports.
The men also removed some CCTV recordings before leaving the scene, but investigators are hopeful that footage can be recovered from the memory chip of the security cameras.
More about Afghanistan, Kandahar province, Kabul, Central bank, Fazel Ahmad Azimi
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