By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – A notorious Afghan banker and former international poker player has died in a Kabul prison of heart attack, officials and local media confirmed on Friday.
According to local Tolo News, Sherkhan Farnood, the former chair of defunct private lender Kabul Bank, died in prison at age 57 of a heart attack. It added that Ghafoor Ahmad, Defense Ministry spokesman, confirmed the report.
Once the country’s largest lender, the bank plunged into deep crisis in 2009 when it lost $835 million in fraudulent property deals, massive off-book loans, and credit to fake corporations, prompting the government to take over its affairs in 2010.
The scandal also provoked the International Monetary Fund to temporarily suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid to Afghanistan.
Kabul Bank had handled about one-third of Afghanistan’s banking and most of the government payroll — including salaries for the army and security forces.
After years of delays, the case was re-opened in 2014 at the directive of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
Later that year a panel of five judges sentenced Farnood and Khalilullah Ferozi, the bank’s former CEO, for 15 years in prison.