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.


Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

Updated 10 July 2020

Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

  • Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018
  • Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s attorney general said Friday that two men had confessed to killing a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group as part of a plot to topple Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018.
His shooting death last week sparked days of protests and ethnic violence that killed 239 people, according to police figures.
“The assassination was intended to be a cover to take power from the incumbent by force,” attorney general Abebech Abbebe said in a statement Friday aired on state television, without providing details.
Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office, a complaint echoed by many protesters last week.
Abebech said that along with the two men who have allegedly confessed to the crime, the government has identified a third suspect who remains on the run.
One of the men in custody identified the masterminds of the alleged plot as members of a rebel group the government believes is affiliated with the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) political party, Abebech said.
The OLF, a former rebel movement, returned to Ethiopia from exile after Abiy took office and has repeatedly disavowed any links to armed insurgents.
The Internet remained shut off Friday for an 11th consecutive day, though Addis Ababa remains calm and Abiy’s office issued a statement saying the surrounding Oromia region had “returned to calm and citizens have resumed normal activities.”
In her statement, however, Abebech said unnamed agitators were calling for additional protests and road blockages in the coming days.
“There are those that have hidden themselves in nice places but are calling on Ethiopian youth to fight each other, close roads and to cease working as part of a rebellion call,” Abebech said.
“Above all we call on our people to disobey this rebellion call and to thwart it.”