Kabul EU Compound Under Investigation Over Alcohol Smuggling
The EU compound in Kabul is now under investigation, as it’s feared that the site is being used by an alcohol smuggling ring. Leaked Facebook and WhatsApp messages sent to EU officials show disused fridges and adapted gas canisters which it’s thought have been used to smuggle alcohol out of the EU-designated area to sell to local businessmen. The consumption and possession of alcohol is illegal in Afghanistan, however the black market is thriving and alcohol is frequently sold illegally.
Officials first became suspicious earlier in the year, when restaurant workers were found moving a disused fridge to the compound. The manager raised concerns to the EU about the movement of equipment and possibly alcohol. The manager wrote in a letter to EU representatives based in the city saying that “I was having dinner with [a colleague] when I saw that Tawoos employees were trying to move out of the compound a big fridge.”
“I asked them why and they said the fridge was broken. A few minutes after, I went to the car and instructed them to open the fridge. I insisted, but they didn’t want to open it.But after having called additional security … they opened the fridge, which was full of alcohol. I took pictures. Please advise.”
The claims are being investigated by the EU, and if true could be humiliating to the European External Action Service (EEAS), who acting as diplomatic corps in Kabul as diplomatic employees are being accused of having involvement in the smuggling. This isn’t the first case of diplomats being accused of illegally selling alcohol overseas. of Hyon Ki-yong, a North Korean diplomat, has recently been accused of being involved in bootlegging in Islamabad .
An EU spokesperson said that the EEAS and European commission were made aware of the allegations in August, and have referred it to the European anti-fraud office who are currently investigating the issue, saying in a statement that “The EEAS and the European commission take any allegations of wrongdoing extremely seriously Olaf assesses incoming information of potential investigative interest according to standard procedures.
“It is only after such an initial assessment that Olaf decides whether or not to open an investigation. The EEAS and the European commission recall that the presumption of innocence applies.The EEAS and the European commission are not aware of other suspected alcohol-smuggling operations or other allegations with regard to alcohol smuggling that would involve other EU premises.”
The Afghan government has not commented on the allegations.