Millions of dollars in cash is being smuggled from Kabul to Dubai every day in briefcases, bags and holdalls, a US ambassador to Afghanistan has warned.
Ambassador E Anthony Wayne revealed that $10 million of dirty money is being carried into the UAE each day - much of it drug earnings from Afghanistan’s booming heroin trade.
He revealed details of a US investigation that found an estimated $190 million in cash was smuggled from the Afghan capital in just 18 sample days, with most of it ending up in Dubai.
Wayne, the US ambassador in charge of economic affairs, made his comments in Kabul at the start of a four-day conference on cash smuggling.
In a hard-hitting statement, he said that the Afghan authorities should know about this money, should monitor it and should control it.
His comments were backed up by the Afghan foreign minister who said that both drug dealers and corrupt government officials were moving large amounts of cash into Dubai.
The ambassador added that the smuggling methods were “low tech”, with couriers hired to carry the cash in their personal luggage.
He vowed to help Afghan authorities to end the “scourge” of cash smuggling being used by people who wanted to return Afghanistan to “lawlessness and anarchy”.
He also vowed to help train Afghan officials to spot cash smugglers and revealed some of the bizarre methods the US government has spotted internationally - including couriers who swallow the cash to avoid detection.
Other “creative tactics” include hiding cash in sweet wrappers, bicycle tyres and even laundry detergent boxes. “Couriers have been caught with concealed bulk cash hidden in their shoes and taped to their bodies,” he added.
Their statements came as Indian police confirmed they had raided the home on Saturday of Naresh Kumar Jain, who ran the world’s largest money laundering operation from Dubai, according to US, Italian and Germany authorities.
Jain, who was arrested, had fled to India in recent months after allegedly running a massive money laundering operation in Deira for the last 20 years, much of it allegedly handing Afghan drug money.
Hossam Abd El-Rahman, managing partner and financial crimes consultant at Dubai’s Allied Compliance Consultants, said that the UAE Central Bank is awaiting an independent report that will assess its ability to stop money laundering.
“They are taking this seriously and Dubai has trained auditors to stop money laundering.
“They are not at the stage where they know everything, and they will have to improve some areas,” he said.