ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - The United States criticized Thursday the government in Afghanistan for releasing from jail and into house arrest a key "fraud perpetrator" before the conclusion of his sentence, allegedly in return for a multimillion-dollar campaign donation.
The U.S. reaction came after a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the former Kabul Bank chief executive, Khalilullah Ferozi, had been transferred to his residence because of his deteriorating health.
"This action, along with the continued failure to execute warrants for those accused of corruption, calls into question the government's commitment to combating corruption and making best use of donors' support," U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass tweeted Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi, however, rejected as baseless allegations that Ferozi was granted the concession after a substantial donation to Ghani's election campaign.
"Countless Afghans suffered in the past decade because international assistance funds were stolen for personal gain," lamented ambassador Bass.
Ferozi, along with another senior colleague, Sherkhan Farnood, were tried and sentenced to 10 years and five years, respectively, for their roles in the nearly $1 billion scandal that led to the collapse of Kabul Bank in 2011, pushing the tiny Afghan economy to the brink of ruin.
Farnood, 57, died in prison last year while serving his sentence.
Ghani, who is seeking re-election in the presidential vote scheduled for Sept. 28, already has also been under fire from rival candidates for allegedly misusing state resources and funds to run his campaign.
His recent appointments to key government and foreign diplomatic posts also have been criticized by his rival candidates as pre-poll rigging.