Former ambassador faces money-laundering probe


page image

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating tax evasion and money-laundering charges involving Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the U.N., according to the Austrian newsmagazine Profil and reported by various other news outlets.

 According to Profil, a blogger in Austria discovered investigatory documents discarded by Viennese officials who were examining bank accounts of Cheryl Benard, the dual-citizen Austrian-American wife of Khalilzad. Neither the Justice Department nor the Austrian authorities are providing any details of the investigation other than to acknowledge that it exists. According to Profil, one of the aspects being investigated is a transfer of $1.5 million into one of Benard’s Austrian accounts.

Benard’s lawyer acknowledged that a number of her bank accounts had been frozen but that she and her husband have not been charged and refute any connection to wrong-doing.

According to reports, the Justice Department first requested information from Austrian authorities in May of 2013. Khalilzad is Afghani-born, and he studied both in Beirut and in the U.S., earning a doctorate at the University of Chicago. He worked in the U.S. State Department under the administrations of George H.W. Bush and George Bush, and he was active in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks. He is founder and president of Gryphon Partners, and he remains active as an analyst of Middle East and foreign affairs.