Afghanistan closes Iran-linked bank due to ‘grave violations’

Kabul has revoked the license of the Iran-linked Arian Bank due to “grave violations,” a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Central Bank told Arab News on Monday. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 May 2019

Afghanistan closes Iran-linked bank due to ‘grave violations’

  • Move follows recent meeting to review activities of foreign financial institutions

KABUL: Kabul has revoked the license of the Iran-linked Arian Bank due to “grave violations,” a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Central Bank told Arab News on Monday.

The move was not linked to US sanctions on Iran, Aimal Ashoor added. The Central Bank convened a meeting recently to review the activities of foreign banks, he said. 

The cancelation of Arian Bank’s operating license follows that of Pakistan-based Habib Bank, he added.

“Arian Bank is actually an Afghan bank but it has Iranian shareholders. The cancellation of the license is because of grave violations of the laws and guidelines of the Central Bank,” Ashoor said.

“Like Habib Bank, Arian Bank hadn’t offered loans to traders and had zero role in the economic development of Afghanistan.”

Al-Falah and the National Bank of Pakistan are the only foreign financial institutions that came out clean from the review and are allowed to operate, Ashoor said. 

Arian Bank is actually an Afghan bank but it has Iranian shareholders. The cancellation of the license is because of grave violations of the laws and guidelines of the Central Bank.

Aimal Ashoor, Spokesman for Central Bank

Arian Bank was established in June 2004 with initial capital of $10 million. Its goal was to facilitate financial help for Afghan and Iranian traders.

In recent years, Iran has become Afghanistan’s main trading partner. However, a wave of US sanctions slapped on Iran since last autumn has affected trade between the neighbors and led to Iranian goods soaring in price in Afghan markets.

Analyst Akbar Polad said the cancelation of Arian Bank’s license will have no impact on the Afghan economy. “Both Habib Bank and Arian Bank had become means of taking money from Afghanistan, i.e. money laundering. Neither had contributed to economic development and investment in the country,” he told Arab News.

Wahidullah Ghazikhail, who served in the previous Afghan government and runs a think tank, said banks have not had much of a role in the country’s development. 

Among the allegations against Arian Bank is that it provided cash to some opposition politicians, and that may have caused the cancelation of its license, he added. “Closing the bank could create problems for some (traders) in Afghanistan and Iran,” he told Arab News.


Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

Updated 16 sec ago

Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

  • Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump says ‘I kept my promises’
  • The president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough
HOLLYWOOD, Florida: President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, the president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A number of Jewish groups noted at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
The Israeli American Council is financially backed by one of Trump’s top supporters, the husband-and-wife duo of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate.
Both Adelsons appeared on stage to introduce Trump, with Miriam Adelson asserting that Trump “has already gone down in the annals of Jewish history, and that is before he’s even completed his first term in office.”
The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 congressional elections.
Trump’s entourage at the event included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, along with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Waltz, whom he described as “two warriors” defending him against “oppression” in the impeachment inquiry.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon
But Trump voiced support for Iranian citizens who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.