In a rare interview, Mr Sopko, told The Independent newspaper based in UK how dealing with corruption in Afghanistan compares to dealing with the mafia: “It’s different and it’s harder. When I was with the organised crime section, Department of Justice, you’re dealing with a legitimate legal system…you don’t have that in Afghanistan…and the joke is Afghanistan has the best justice system that money can buy.”
He adds: “We have worked with some very honest and very brave Afghan policemen and prosecutors and judges but many of them are no longer there, they have either fled or been intimidated or been bought off or killed so it’s extremely difficult.”
Some $113 billion has already been spent by the US government on reconstruction in Afghanistan in the past 13 years. That’s more than the £103bn it spent on helping to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.
For every dollar spent in Afghanistan, at least 29 cents disappears in fraud or wastage, based on figures from the US Commission on War Time Contracting. And even that is a conservative estimate, it said in its final report in 2011.
Security is the biggest challenge facing Afghanistan, he claims. “Corruption is right up there with security and narcotics is right there with corruption and security and it’s like a three legged stool of issues.”
Despite everything, the US watchdog is hopeful and optimistic for the future of Afghanistan saying when I think of Afghanistan, I think it will get better but it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be fast.