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Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said Wednesday that his office would investigate allegations that former President Ashraf Ghani left the country with $169 million in cash when he fled in mid-August.

Driving the news: Sopko said in testimony before a House subcommittee for development aid that his office was "looking into" the allegations but had not "proven that yet."

  • He also said there were other allegations about senior officials at the Afghan finance ministry, the central bank and other ministries walking off with cash.

Context: Ghani began his term in 2015 and worked previously as an academic and a World Bank official.

  • Ghani stepped down and fled to the United Arab Emirates in August as tensions rose with the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the victory of the Taliban.
  • Afghanistan's ambassador to Tajikstan accused him of stealing millions of dollars from state funds before fleeing. Ghani denied the allegations in a Facebook video.
  • Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have repeatedly pressed President Biden to investigate these allegations, saying in a letter: "[If the allegations are] true, this was not the dignified exit of a benevolent head of state, but that of a coward and grifter."

Go deeper

Oct 19, 2021 - World

WHO, UNICEF to launch polio vaccine drive in Afghanistan

Afghan boys return to their homes after attending school in Chashma Dozak area of Badghis province on Oct. 16. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will launch a house-to-house vaccination campaign to inoculate children in Afghanistan against polio, the UN announced Monday.

Why it matters: The campaign, which begins Nov. 8 with the Taliban's backing, is the first such vaccine drive in over three years to reach all Afghan children, the press release noted.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from Saturday night, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is forecast to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

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