Mahmoud Karzai, a brother of the president of Afghanistan and a shareholder in the troubled Kabul Bank, has disclosed his net worth for the first time, with assets of more than US$6.6 million (Dh24.24m). But he asserts his total wealth has increased by just $1m in the past three years, with that coming mostly from his sale of a villa on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. Mr Karzai made the claims after US newspaper reports alleged he had profited from his connection to the president Hamid Karzai.
His assets include: an Afghan restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts; an 18 per cent stake in an Afghan cement factory; a 20 per cent stake in a property project in Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city; and a larger stake in an apartment building project in Kabul, the capital. "I am a major businessman but I am not wealthy," said Mr Karzai, who left Afghanistan in 1976 for the US where he eventually went into the restaurant business. "Everything I had from the US I invested in Afghanistan. I have taken great risks."
US federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating Mr Karzai on suspicion of violations including racketeering and tax evasion but he said he had received no confirmation of an investigation. His only mistake, he said, was failing to report more than Dh3m of profit he made on the sale of his villa on the Palm Jumeirah in 2008. Late last month he transferred $301,000 to the US government as part of an amended income tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service. The under-reporting of his income was a "mistake", he said.
Any other accusations were groundless and politically motivated, Mr Karzai said. "I'm not involved in anything which will hurt me or my family. There is a lot of jealousy and resentment for what I do," he said. "Instead of encouragement for investing in Afghanistan, I get resentment. Welcome to this part of the world." The spotlight fell on Mr Karzailast month when Afghanistan's central bank ousted the top two executives at the country's largest private financial institution, Kabul Bank, over the improper use of more than $150m for property investments in Dubai.
He is the third-largest shareholder of the bank, which handles the payroll for Afghanistan's soldiers, police and teachers. "I was a silent partner" in Kabul Bank, Mr Karzai said. "My views were not taken."