US lost $19 billion to fraud, abuse in Afghanistan
The United States has lost $19 billion in Afghanistan since 2002 due to “waste, fraud and abuse,” the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a new report released Tuesday.
SIGAR monitors all U.S. spending in the 19-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest.
The American oversight authority noted that the U.S. Congress has appropriated nearly $134 billion for Afghan reconstruction programs since the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001.
“Of that amount, SIGAR reviewed approximately $63 billion and concluded that a total of approximately $19 billion, or 30% of the amount reviewed, was lost to waste, fraud, and abuse,” the report said.
SIGAR’s audit identified approximately $1.8 billion in waste, fraud and abuse between January 2018 and December 2019.
The oversight office is tasked with reviewing reconstruction funding and presenting recommendations for putting the money to better use for other programs or efforts in the tumultuous South Asian nation.
SIGAR’s latest report comes as President Donald Trump’s administration presses the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents to negotiate a political settlement to permanently end the long conflict. The Afghan rivals are currently engaged in direct peace talks in Doha, Qatar.
The historic dialogue is the product of a peace-building agreement the Trump administration sealed with the Taliban in February to close the war and bring home all U.S. forces by May 2021.
The U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and toppled the Taliban government at the time for harboring the al-Qaida terror network and its chief, Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the attacks.
The war has since cost Washington the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and nearly $1 trillion.
SIGAR has routinely criticized the Afghan government’s efforts to curb rampant corruption as inadequate, saying it is a major concern among the frustrated donor community.
In a report released in early 2020, the U.S. agency said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration “is more interested in checking off boxes for the international community than in actually uprooting its corruption problem.”
The anti-corruption efforts and reform programs will come under scrutiny next month when Afghan officials and international donors meet in Geneva to consider future aid commitments to Afghanistan.