US May Indict Karzai Brother

Grand jury probing racketeering, extortion allegations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2011 4:25 AM CST
Mahmood Karzai, Brother of Afghan Prez, May Be Indicted in US
Mahmood Karzai, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaks during a press conference in Kabul.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)

Mahmood Karzai, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, has risen from running a few modest restaurants in the US to being one of Afghanistan's most prosperous businessman. Federal authorities, believing there was more than just a little shady dealing along the way, are seeking his indictment on racketeering, extortion, and tax evasion charges and a grand jury is currently investigating, the Wall Street Journal reports. Karzai, who has a home in Maryland, has hired a Washington lawyer.

Officials say an indictment against Karzai, who holds both Afghan and American citizenship, is their best chance of sidestepping Afghanistan's court system and holding an Afghan corruption trial in an American court. "I think it's a question of when, not if. There's lots of evidence," one senior official says. Officials close to the Afghan president, however, says an indictment against his brother would be certain to spark a major diplomatic crisis, undermining US-Afghan relations in a crucial year for the war. (More Afghanistan corruption stories.)

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