News - Afghanistan
The Ministry of Finance on Thursday said the memorandum sent to them by the president's suspended legal advisor Abdul Ali Mohammadi, instructing them to advise government offices to forge agreements with Khalili Frozi's Gas Group, was illegal and in contravention of the procurement act.
MoF spokesman Ajmal Hamid said that Mohammadi did not have the executive authority to give such an order and even if he had this authority it would be illegal for him to take such a decision. They also said they had not sent out his suggested advisory to government offices.
Hamid said: "Advisors are not executive positions. We also did not take any moves in this regard. We follow the law, especially the procurement law."
This comes after President Ashraf Ghani suspended Mohammadi on Tuesday night and directed the head of the high office of oversight and anti-corruption to investigate the Smart City Township contract that Mohammadi allegedly facilitated between convicted Kabul Bank CEO and defaulter Frozi.
Mohammadi vehemently rejected claims on Wednesday at a commission meeting that he had been involved in the recent signing of the controversial housing contract between the Ministry of Urban Development and Frozi.
But Urban Development Minister, Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, claimed he had received several letters from Mohammadi urging him to sign the "Smart City Township" project with Frozi – who was jailed for 10 years in a court verdict last November after being found guilty of defaulting on loans that helped lead to the collapse of Kabul Bank in 2010.
On Wednesday night however, a document surfaced implicating Mohammadi in yet another Frozi-related scandal.
This time, Mohammadi appears to have issued a memorandum, via the Finance Ministry, to inform all government offices that they could sign deals with Frozi's Gas Group for their supplies.
The typed document dated November 2, 2015, and signed by Mohammadi stated: : "The revenue earned by this company will go to the loan department of Kabul Bank to cover the loans of Khalilullah Frozi. Therefore it is requested that all government offices should be given notice to sign agreements with this company to meet their supply needs."
A university lecturer Nasrullah Stanekzai said: "The president's decrees are registered with the administrative affairs office and are then publically announced. President's advisors do not have the authority to issue any type of letter that contains a direction or an order.
Meanwhile the head of the Gas and Fuel Union, Azrakhsh Hafizi, said that all import companies in the sector have the right to bid for government contracts.
"There are at least 106 gas and fuel companies in the country and all have equal rights. No one has the right to direct any of the companies to sign contracts with them."
Shortly before the emergence of this latest document, Mohammadi wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he had been invited by the complaints commission of the Wolesi Jirga to brief them on the Kabul Bank case.
"During the discussions I highlighted the following points. 1. I was neither informed of the Urban Ministry's deal with Frozi and nor did I defend the agreement. I was responsible for the mechanism that was approved by the cabinet and the president. 2. There are two groups that want to blacken my name and hamper the Kabul Bank clearance process. I will talk about these groups at a suitable time. 3. I appreciate the president's decision to investigate this case. I hope that the assigned team finds the answers to the case. 4. Meanwhile, I have not spoken to anyone privately or outside of the commission's sessions. All that I have said was to the media and to the commission members," he said.
Mohammadi allegedly facilitated the signing of the "Smart City Township" project - worth over $900 USD. The deal was inked about two weeks ago. However, after mounting criticism of government, Ghani cancelled the contract within a week and ordered an investigation into the issue.