KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not aware that a major bank now mired in scandal had contributed millions of dollars to his re-election campaign, his spokesman said Thursday. A foreign-funded inquiry reported Wednesday that a staggering $900 million fraud had ruined the Kabul Bank and that top politicians had dictated who should be prosecuted over the theft. The country’s biggest scandal in years has touched a brother of Karzai and a brother of Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who were shareholders in the bank. They are not among 22 people charged over the fraud.

The inquiry hinted that Karzai himself benefited from the bank, saying the institution had “reportedly provided millions of dollars to the campaign of at least one presidential candidate” against central bank advice. Although the inquiry did not name Karzai, it has been reported that Kabul Bank was a major donor to his 2009 re-election campaign. “The president is not aware (of the payments to his campaign),” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi told AFP. “He learnt of claims that $20 million dollars was paid to his campaign. This is a lot of money. We will investigate this.” The president had specifically told the chairman and CEO of the bank in a meeting at his office that if they were asked to contribute to his campaign they should refuse, Faizi said. Asked why the president had met the bankers, Faizi said: “The president meets with people from all walks of life and he meets with them daily.” The accusation that Karzai’s election campaign had received the sum of $20 million was made publicly during a court hearing earlier this month by the bank’s former chairman, Sher Khan Farnoud.