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Swiss-based trustees hold talks on frozen Afghanistan assets

AT

Kabul: The board of a Swiss-based trust fund managing some $3.5 billion in frozen assets seized after the Taliban took power last year is meeting in Geneva for the first time on Monday, a Swiss government spokesperson confirmed to Reuters.

Trustees include Swiss foreign ministry official Alexandra Baumann, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland Scott Miller, Anwar Ahady, a former Afghan central bank chief and former finance minister, and Shah Mehrabi, a U.S. academic who remains on the DAB Supreme Council.

The frozen central bank reserves were recently transferred from Washington into the ‘Fund for the Afghan People’ where U.S. officials say it will be shielded.

The fund’s statutes say its purpose is to “receive, protect, preserve and disburse assets for the benefit of the Afghan people”. But how and when the four-member board will disburse the money remains to be decided.

However, a full-scale transfer back to Afghanistan’s central bank, known as DAB, is seen as all but impossible with a top official who is under both U.S. and U.N. sanctions.

The Swiss fund’s statues indicate that disbursements will be for macroeconomic purposes, such as foreign exchange rate and price stabilization.

The $3.5 billion forms part of an original $7 billion being held in the United States following the political change in August 2021. The other half of the frozen funds is subject to ongoing lawsuits filed by victims of the 9/11 attacks in the US and their relatives.

Aid agencies and the United Nations say that millions of Afghans are in need of urgent assistance after decades of war, followed by drought.

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