Taliban ‘seize gold’ from Afghan officials

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Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled central bank says it has seized nearly $US12.4 million ($A16.9 million) in cash and gold from former top government officials including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in officials’ houses, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts are unknown.

He has vowed to resist the Taliban, who stormed to power a month ago, and last week a family member said the Taliban had executed his brother Rohullah Azizi.

In recent days, pro-Taliban accounts have shared a video online showing bags full of money, which has gone viral.

Taliban official Ahmadullah Wasiq claimed in a tweet that the militants had seized more than $US6 million in cash and 18 gold bars from Saleh’s home in Panjshir province.

Earlier, former Afghan government ambassador to Tajikistan Mohammad Zahir Agbar claimed that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani had taken $US169 million with him when fleeing the country, a charge Ghani dismissed as a “baseless allegation”.

In a separate statement, the central bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency.

It comes amid growing worries that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially US dollars, which are widely used.

In a sign that the Taliban are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government, two commercial bankers said.

with DPA

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