Afghan finance minister breaks down in tears as he denies corruption
Source: The Guardian
Diplomats filing into the conference room at Afghanistan's finance ministry had expected a bland update on accountability targets from the finance minister.
Instead, he brought out personal financial papers and begged for support in the face of what he described as politically motivated corruption allegations, eventually breaking down in tears.
Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, a young technocrat who has been lionised as a dynamic reformer by many western diplomats, said he had "acted naively" in his handling of $2m (£1.3m) of campaign funds for President Hamid Karzai's re-election campaign in 2009, but denied any wrongdoing.
He launched an impassioned 45-minute defence of his behaviour, waving bank statements and tax receipts, and said he feared for his life and his family's safety because of his role in trying to clear up a $900m banking scandal, according to sources who attended the meeting, or heard first-hand accounts.