Taliban slam transfer of Afghan assets into Swiss trust

KABUL, 16 Sept 2022:

The Taliban today called the US move to transfer US$3.5 billion in Afghan central bank assets to a new Swiss-based trust fund “illegal” and “unacceptable.”

US president Joe Biden on Wednesday decided to move the part of the reserves frozen after the Taliban took power in August last year into the newly created Afghan fund.

The Afghan fund would maintain its account with the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and protect, preserve and make specific disbursements to help stabilise the Afghan economy, a US Treasury Department statement said.

Two trustees from the US and Swiss governments would oversee the fund, inaccessible to the Taliban.

“These reserves can never be used for any disbursement purposes,” the Taliban foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Disbursing these reserves for other purposes without the express agreement of the Afghan people is a negative step against Afghan economic stability taken by the United States.”

The statement said the Taliban deemed the decision to use Afghan assets “for targeted disbursement without any input by Afghanistan as unacceptable and a violation of international norms.”

The decision comes after talks between the US, Switzerland, other parties, and the de facto Taliban government – which has demanded the return of billions of dollars in Afghan central bank assets held in the US and other countries.

The Taliban said that during bilateral talks with the US, the independence and professionalism of the Afghan central bank and openness to third-party monitoring were “proven both in words and deeds.”

The Islamist regime called “on all individuals and sides to condemn this illegal and oppressive action, and support the Afghan people on this issue.”

“If the reserves are disbursed without taking into consideration legitimate demands of the Afghans, the Islamic Emirate will be forced to impose fines against, and ban activities of, all individuals, institutions, and companies that facilitate this illegal venture.”

The central bank on Wednesday said the assets belong to the Afghan people.

“Da Afghanistan Bank wants that all restrictions on Afghan assets should be removed completely and has to be tried efficiently to use the assets for achieving the targeted results.”

The bank said the decision to allocate, use, and send the asset for “unrelated fields is not acceptable.”

The Afghan economy is on the brink of a collapse. Nearly half of the 40 million Afghan residents face acute hunger, the UN has warned.

This week, UN Rapporteur for Afghanistan Richard Bennett noted the isolation of that nation’s central bank had aggravated a deep monetary and humanitarian crisis.

According to the World Bank, since the Taliban came to power, income and economic output in Afghanistan have fallen by 20-30%, while imports have declined by about 40%.

About 70% of Afghan households cannot meet basic food or non-food requirements.

– EFE