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Afghanistan: No country for bankers

Making money in Kabul markets

In April 2009 Forbes magazine combined research from two US risk analysis companies, Control Risk Management and iJet Intelligent Risk Systems, to find the world’s most dangerous country. Afghanistan was ranked second, sandwiched between Somalia at one and Iraq at three: a trio of failed states in the wrong sort of league of their own. It is third from bottom in Euromoney’s country risk survey (Country risk September 2009: A world in flux).

It’s little wonder then that being a banker in a state run – at least in rural areas – by heroin barons, gangsters and Taliban zealots is a nervy business. And the danger exists at any level. In October 2008, five employees of Kabul-based Azizi Bank were kidnapped on the Khost-Gardez highway and later released.

In early 2009, the son of Adbul Latif Noorzad, Azizi’s chief credit officer, was kidnapped along with Humayun Shah Asifi, a nephew of the late King Zahir Shah. Gangsters held them captive in west Kabul for a fortnight, threatening to cut off their fingers unless a $5 million ransom was paid for each hostage.

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