US probing Karzai's brother over corruption

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New York, Sept 27 (ANI): Federal prosecutors in New York have reportedly launched a criminal investigation against Mahmood Karzai, the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, raising the stakes in Washington's dealings with the Karzai government.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mahmood Karzai has become a centre of attention in a corruption probe handled by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, an office that has a history of charging, extraditing and trying suspects in far-flung parts of the world, including Afghanistan.

Prosecutors are trying to determine whether that they have enough evidence to bring charges of tax evasion, racketeering or extortion, against Karzai, who is a U.S. citizen, U.S. officials said.

Meanwhile, Karzai has denied the allegations against him and claimed that he is just a businessman and his sole interest lies in 'rebuilding Afghanistan.' How many people do you think they have on me? Four, five, 10, 20? They won't find anything. I'm just a businessman," he added.

Karzai currently owns four properties in the U.S. and splits his time between his home in suburban Baltimore and rented houses in Dubai and Kabul, He reportedly possess a net worth of roughly 12 million dollars and owns .

20 percent of a sprawling American-style housing development in the desert on the outskirts of Kandahar, the paper said.

His status as a U.S. citizen would make him easier to prosecute than other Afghans, should prosecutors go forward, the paper adds.

The arrest of one of President Karzai's aides this summer by U.S.-backed Afghan anti-corruption investigators provoked a feud between Washington and the Afghan leader, who has since worked to undercut the independence of special Afghan investigative units built over the past year under U.S. and European tutelage. (ANI)

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