Saturday, August 05, 2017

US taxpayers paying for ghosts

Sharyl Attkisson reports at Full Measure,
Since 2002, billions of U.S. tax dollars have been spent rebuilding Afghanistan after its decades of war. A big chunk of that money pays Afghan soldiers and police. But it turns out a lot of those troops who were paid, may not, in fact, exist. We investigate how your tax money is being wasted on "ghost soldiers."
John Sopko: We've been raising this concern about ghosts going back a number of years. We first heard about it from Ashraf Ghani years ago, before he became president, he warned me about "ghosts" so we started looking three years ago.

John Sopko is the Inspector General watching over the U.S. taxpayer billions spent to rebuild Afghanistan.
Sharyl: When you say "ghosts," what are you referring to?

John Sopko: What we're talking about are policemen, Afghan policemen, Afghan military, Afghan civil servants who don't exist or they have multiple identity cards and we're paying their salaries. By "we" I mean the United States and the international community. And we started finding out that we had no capacity to measure the number of soldiers, teachers, doctors, military people who we are paying their salaries.
For years, multiple audits have shown there's no way to prove that the money we send for salaries is going to a real live body. And the payroll numbers just don't add up. For example, Sopko says, in June 2016, the supposed number of Afghan military and police was 319,595. But an Afghan official told AP "the best internal estimate" of the real number was "around 120,000."

Sharyl: This implies fraud, obviously.

John Sopko: Oh, absolutely. Major fraud. And what's happening is the commanders or generals or other higher officials are actually pocketing the salaries of the ghosts. And I remember President Ghani again, at that time he wasn't president, saying, "John, you, the United States government are paying the salary of an Afghan who's a teacher, he's a civil servant, he's a doctor, he is a policeman, and he's a soldier. And it's the same Afghan. And he doesn't exist."
Read more here.

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