Former U.S. Ambassador Investigated for Money Laundering

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Zalmay Khalilzad with President George W. Bush

The former top U.S. diplomat to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations is now under investigation for money laundering and tax evasion.


Zalmay Khalilzad has come under suspicion over $1.4 million he reportedly transferred into the Austrian bank account of his wife, author Cheryl Benard, which was frozen by local authorities, but unfrozen by the regional high court in Vienna on Thursday.


“The money came from oil and building contracts in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates that allegedly violated U.S. laws, U.S. investigators told their Austrian counterparts,” Bloomberg’s Jonathan Tirone wrote.


The U.S. Department of Justice is conducting the probe of Khalilzad, founder of Gryphon Partners, a financial advisory firm. The investigation came to light when an Austrian blogger found documents in a trash bin that included a Justice Department document pertaining to the Khalilzad inquiry.


Khalilzad served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2005, first as U.S. special presidential envoy for two years, followed by his role as American ambassador for the remaining two.

The George W. Bush administration then shifted him to Iraq, where he was ambassador until 2007. Khalilzad finished his diplomatic service as the U.S. permanent representative to the UN from 2007 to 2009.


In January 1998, three and a half years before the 9/11 attacks, Khalilzad was one of 18 neo-conservatives who signed a open letter to President Bill Clinton urging him to invade Iraq.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Ex-U.S. Envoy Khalilzad Subject of Money-Laundering Probe (by Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg)

Former Top U.S. Ambassador to UN, Iraq in Laundering Probe (by George Jahn, Associated Press)

Former Envoy Reported Facing a Federal Inquiry (by Alison Smale, New York Times)


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