Federal prosecutors in New York have launched a corruption investigation into business operations belonging to Afghan president Hamid Karzai's brother. Mamood Karzai, who is a US citizen, is being probed for tax evasion, extortion, and racketeering that may be linked in part to US loans he obtained to build his businesses, reports the Wall Street Journal. Karzai's $12 million in assets include four properties in the US and an American-style housing complex in Kandahar. He's one of several important Afghan figures currently under investigation for corruption.
Karzai, who shuttles between homes in suburban Baltimore, Dubai, and Kabul, denied any wrongdoing, saying his business interests and wealth were acquired legitimately and his sole interest is "rebuilding Afghanistan." "I'm just a businessman," he added, though he did tell AP he is preparing to amend his tax returns. Any charges against Karzai wouldn't likely be filed until early next year, and threaten to bring a stinging backlash from the Afghan president.