Afghan minister's 30m dlrs bribery allegations worsens Karzai's corruption woes

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Kabul, Nov. 18 (ANI): A minister in Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's cabinet has been accused of accepting roughly 30-million-dollar bribe to award the country's largest development project to a Chinese mining firm, a US official has claimed.

The Washington Post quoted the US official as saying that there is a "high degree of certainty" that the minister of mines, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel, received the alleged payment in Dubai within a month of December 2007, when the state-run China Metallurgical Group Corp. received the contract for a 2.9 billion dollar project to extract copper from the Aynak deposit in Logar province.

Adel has denied receiving bribes or illicit payments during his three-year-old tenure as minister and said that MCC won the contract after a fair review process.

"I am responsible for the revenue and benefit of our people. All the time I'm following the law and the legislation for the benefit of the people," he said.

The allegation, if proved true, would only add to Karzai's worries who is already under intense international pressure to clear his cabinet of ministers who have reaped huge profits through bribery and kickback schemes.

Although he announced a new anti-corruption unit this week, the president has been reluctant to fire scandal-tainted ministers in the past, and it is unclear whether he is ready to do so now.

Meanwhile, Afghans' perceptions that they are ruled by a thieving class have weakened support for the government and bolstered sympathy for the Taliban insurgency. (ANI)

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