The UN Development Programme is investigating allegations of fraud at a $1.4 billion fund for paying Afghan police officers, the organisation said on Monday. Three contractors working for the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) were sacked earlier this month, the UNDP said, but officials refused to comment on a Wall Street Journal report saying two senior staff members had been suspended. The Journal reported that the UNDP's assistant country director for Afghanistan, Mushtaq Rahim, and LOTFA director, Sandeep Kumar, had been put on administative leave.
The UNDP refused to comment on the report, saying to do so would compromise the "due process of the investigation".
But the organisation's deputy director of communications, Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, said: "Appropriate temporary and permanent measures are being taken towards concerned contractors and staff in line with UNDP's strict anti-fraud policy."
The probe is focusing on potential misuse of a $2.2 million procurement budget, the Journal said.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), an anti-corruption watchdog, warned in May that LOTFA, which is responsible for paying Afghanistan's 120,000 police officers, was vulnerable to graft.
MEC said the current payroll system gave little assurance that LOTFA money was only being used for legitimate purposes, with more than 20 percent of police still being paid in cash, and warned UNDP needed to tighten its oversight procedures.
Corruption is rife in Afghanistan and has been fuelled by the billions of dollars that have poured into the country in the decade since a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime after the 9/11 attacks by Al-Qaeda.