By Amin Kawa
The Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), a state-owned institution, plays a crucial role in the country’s energy sector, encompassing the transportation, procurement, supply, storage, and distribution of petroleum and gas products in adherence to both national and international standards. The corporation’s charter mandates that it be led by competent, professional, and experienced individuals, without political interference. However, since the Taliban assumed power in Afghanistan, they have dismissed around 400 employees and replaced them with their own affiliates. In the past three months, the General Director of AOGC, operating under Taliban administration, has appointed approximately 20 associates, all residents of Chak Wardak district in Maidan Wardak Province, to key positions within the institution. Additionally, employees have raised concerns about favoritism, coercion, death threats, demotions, and unauthorized promotions occurring within specific circles. Disturbingly, information obtained by the Hasht-e Subh Daily reveals that individuals affiliated with the Taliban in this institution have received salary and benefit increases that violate the corporation’s charter and administrative procedures, with highly paid positions being created based on their requests.
According to finds of the Hasht-e Subh Daily, it has been revealed that the General Director of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), operating under Taliban administration, has taken simultaneous actions of dismissing numerous employees while appointing 16 of his own affiliates to key positions within the company. The General Director, Mohammad Naseer Rahimi, has allocated crucial and revenue-generating roles in both central and secondary units of the corporation to his affiliates, all of whom are residents of a specific district. These positions encompass legal consultation, service administration, licensing administration, office administration, fuel tank licensing, management of liquefied gas reserves, supply and distribution management, general contract management, reserve management, executive trade management, licensing staff, fuel tank staff, operational management staff, procurement management, and a representative for communication with the Chinese company. The General Director has personally assigned these positions to individuals affiliated with him.
The Hasht-e Subh Daily has acquired a list of individuals appointed to key positions at the central office of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), all of whom are affiliated with the General Director. The list exposes that these individuals hail from the Chak Wardak district, Maidan Wardak province, where the General Director himself resides. Sources reveal that the majority of the newly appointed individuals are closely related to the General Director, including his nephew and cousin. Here is a list of the Directors and the corresponding key positions within the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) under Taliban control:
|1||Naseer Rahimi||General Director||Hedayatullah Badri||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|2||Abdullah Mo’tasem||Legal Advisor||Naseer Rahimi||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|3||Asadullah Anaam||Administrative and Financial Director||Naseer Rahimi||–||–|
|4||Shaakir||Services Director||Cousin||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|5||Shoaib||Licensing Officer||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|6||Sebghatullah Akrami||Office Manager||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|7||Qarib ur-Rahman||Liquid Fuel Volunteer Tank Manager||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|8||Hasibullah||Liquefied Gas Reserve General Manager||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|9||Mahbubullah Masood||Supply and Distribution Manager, Currently Acting Director of Trade||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|10||Mustafa Dariwar||Driver||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|11||Saddam||Reserve General Manager||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|12||Eid Mohammad||Executive Manager of Trade||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|13||Tariq Son of Muhammad Jan||Employee of Licensing Department||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|14||Misbahullah||Employee of Fuel Tank Department||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|15||Khalid||Employee of Operational Management Department||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
|16||Rafiullah||Procurement Manager||General Director’s Relatives||Chak Wardak||Maidan Wardak|
Meanwhile, employees of the General Directorate of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) have informed the Hasht-e Subh Daily about unlawful practices within the organization. Apart from hiring relatives, the authority engages in unauthorized activities such as creating, modifying, demoting, and promoting positions. Some employees have reported receiving death threats from a specific group within the company. Sources, who wish to remain anonymous due to security concerns, disclose that they have been subjected to threats and forced expulsion. Employees consistently assert that the General Director, in violation of Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada’s orders, has prepared and approved a lengthy list of experienced employees to be dismissed, using the pretext of “relations with officials.”
Sources raise concerns about the enforced removal of experienced employees from this institution, asserting that senior Taliban officials are instructed to hire individuals who are not their own children or relatives. A written decision from the executive committee of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), forwarded by the administrative and financial department to its branches, confirms that this action is in accordance with the directive of the Taliban supreme leader. The document, published on May 26, 2023, includes the order and decision, stating: “Order number 30, dated March 17, 2022, by the leadership of the Islamic Emirate, instructs all government officials to refrain from appointing individuals based on personal relationships. Following the verbal guidance of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, ministries, directorates, and independent government departments that have previously appointed relatives or their children are now required to select other individuals instead of their affiliated personnel.”
During the sixth session of the executive committee of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) on April 18, 2023, it was decided that the Human Resources Directorate of the Administrative and Financial Department must adhere to the order of the Taliban supreme leader regarding the prohibition of appointing close relatives in the company’s offices. Additionally, the department is tasked with restructuring in line with the recently approved Human Resources policy. The official document emphasizes that employees who violate the company’s policy by having familial relations should be given the option to have one of them fulfill their duties as an employee. Article 13 of the Human Resources policy explicitly prohibits the hiring of close relatives in all sections of the company, particularly in the financial, revenue, and procurement departments. However, within the past three months, more than 15 individuals associated with the General Director of this state-owned company have been appointed to key positions.
Another document, “Signed” by the Administrative and Financial Department of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), addresses the issue of employees’ close relatives who are currently working in various departments of the company. According to the Human Resources policy, one of these relatives will be terminated from their employment. The written notice specifies that the responsibility for leaving the company lies with the employees who have familial relations. The document requires employees to submit their consent for departure to the General Management of Recruitment within two weeks. Failure to do so will result in the department making the decision to dismiss one of them while the other remains. The document emphasizes that the dismissal of relatives and the hiring of new employees should be completed within three months to ensure uninterrupted company operations in accordance with the company’s policy. The responsibility for hiring new individuals in compliance with the policy or orders has been assigned to the Administrative and Financial Department.
However, employees of this company assert that this order solely targets high-ranking Taliban positions and does not include experienced government employees who possess ample experience and expertise. According to them, the Taliban, exploiting this order, are terminating the majority of experienced employees. Following the Taliban’s directive, approximately 70 employees of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) are facing dismissals from their positions. These actions are in addition to the findings of an investigative report by the Hasht-e Subh Daily, which uncovered that the Taliban had previously terminated the employment of 379 individuals within this state-owned company. This occurs despite Mullah Hibatullah’s order to refrain from expelling lower-ranking government employees who have dutifully served in government institutions.
Favoritism and Employment with Exorbitant Salaries
The Hasht-e Subh Daily has obtained a letter revealing the employment of an individual with a significantly high salary as a consultant in the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC). Informed sources disclosed to the Hasht-e Subh Daily that Mohammad Saabet Khaleqi, formerly employed in the administrative department of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), has been granted his requested salary of 196,000 Afghanis. Sources further indicate that the administrative and financial director of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), who was previously the administrative director of Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), brought Khaleqi to the department upon assuming his role.
The official document sent from the Administrative and Financial Department Director of the company to the General Director of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), which includes Khaleqi’s salary increase request, states the following: “I, Mohammad Saabet Khaleqi, son of Abdul Haq, the coordinator of the Oil Extraction Project (EPSC), have fulfilled my duties diligently for the past three months. However, my current salary does not adequately cover my daily expenses. I have also received a job offer from a foreign company that offers a salary of 2,500 US dollars. Therefore, I respectfully request the leadership to consider granting me a salary in accordance with Grade A, Step 10.”
The document also contains the decree of Mohammad Naseer Rahimi, the General Director of the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) under Taliban control, in response to Khaleqi’s request. Rahimi writes, “I hereby sign and approve. To the Administrative and Financial Department! Based on the decision of the board of directors and the decree of the Ministry of Finance, an amount of 196,000 Afghanis is approved for the nominee.” It is worth noting that Khaleqi previously worked as a contract employee with a salary of 80,000 Afghanis (NTA). Sources within the company allege that his hiring in this institution was illegal, and he was subsequently appointed as a coordinator for the Oil Extraction Project (EPSC). According to these sources, while coordination with this project falls under the responsibilities of the Trade Department according to the company’s regulations, the Trade Department is not involved in this matter.
Favoritism and nepotism, along with the failure to effectively utilize specialized and professional resources, are significant issues within this company. Sources reveal that previously, the Taliban’s Ministry of Finance had assigned five of its own experts to develop a strategic plan for the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC), with a monthly salary of 80,000 Afghanis for a period of five months. However, these experts’ work yielded no results, and there was no follow-up on their progress. After completing the designated timeframe, they returned to the Ministry of Finance without any accomplishments. Surprisingly, the company has now appointed someone close to the General Director as an expert to prepare the strategic plan, a task that was previously entrusted to the Ministry of Finance experts. According to sources, this individual has been hired solely to receive a salary and has made no tangible contributions in this capacity. Sources describe their work as ineffective, characterized by procrastination, and lacking any measurable progress.
Sources within the state-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) claim that the General Director of the institution, in violation of directives from the Taliban’s supreme leader, has increased his own salary and that of certain members of the leadership while leaving the salaries of other employees unchanged. An informed source informed the Hasht-e Subh Daily that a new salary scheme was implemented from January to March 2023. Previously, the General Director received a salary of 150,000 Afghanis, which has now increased to approximately 180,000 Afghanis. Similarly, the salaries of Directors rose from 100,000 Afghanis to about 180,000 Afghanis, and High-Ranking Authorities saw an increase from 50,000 Afghanis to 80,000 Afghanis. Grade 4 positions, which previously earned 14,000 Afghanis, now range from 40,000 to 45,000 Afghanis under the new scheme. However, these changes have only been applied to the General Director, legal advisor, and administrative and financial director, and not to other positions. The salaries of these positions were approved even a month before the introduction of this new scheme, while they have received this salary since the month of January 2023, and the new scheme was introduced around March 2023, which is in contradiction with all the legal documents of this company.”
These sources further reveal that the General Director, administrative and financial director, legal advisor, and newly hired employees are currently receiving salaries based on the new scheme, while experienced employees are still receiving their previous salaries. The Taliban have reportedly assured the experienced employees that they will be included in the new scheme after an evaluation process. However, despite almost five months passing, no legal measures have been taken in this regard.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that Article 17 of the Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) Charter states that the rights and benefits of the company’s employees are approved by the Executive Committee and subsequently reviewed by the Board of Directors, in accordance with the provisions of the State-owned Companies Law and after the approval of the Supervisory Board. According to the Charter, employee salaries are determined by the company’s internal regulations, taking into account their level of contribution to the national economy, as well as their qualifications and skills.
On the other hand, it is important to note that the Taliban cabinet has approved a salary scale for various positions. According to this scale, the Prime Minister receives a monthly salary of 200,000 Afghanis, Deputy Prime Ministers receive 183,000 Afghanis, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court receives 167,000 Afghanis, Ministers and the Director of Intelligence receive 137,000 Afghanis, the General Director of Administrative Affairs receives 122,000 Afghanis, Governors receive 91,000 Afghanis, Deputy Directors of Administrative Affairs receive 76,000 Afghanis, Deputy Ministers receive 91,000 Afghanis, the General Audit Director receives 61,000 Afghanis, the Mayor of Kabul receives 106,000 Afghanis, mayors of provinces receive 45,000 Afghanis each, and the General Director of Radio Sharia receives a monthly salary of 61,000 Afghanis. However, it is evident that the implementation of this salary scale is not widespread across most government departments under Taliban control.
Misuse of Government Resources and Exploitation of the Company’s Budget to Repair Them
Sources reveal that the misuse of government resources is an additional challenge within the company. It is reported that during the Republic regime, the State-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) procured six brand-new Nexia cars; however, these vehicles remained unused due to the absence of license plates. Sources indicate that since the Taliban assumed control, these cars have been utilized for personal purposes without obtaining the required traffic permits.
Sources reveal that individuals associated with the General Director have been using these cars for personal purposes, taking them to their respective provinces during holidays and utilizing them on weekends. They note that these cars are currently in a dilapidated condition, with some having broken windows, yet they have not been issued license plates. An anonymous source informs the Hasht-e Subh Daily that the head of the licensing office, Shoaib, has negligently damaged a brand-new car for personal use. The car has suffered significant damage and was repaired using office funds, although the responsibility for repairs should legally fall upon the individual involved, as the incident occurred during personal matters.
Administrative Corruption and Project Development
Employees of the State-owned Afghanistan Oil and Gas Corporation (AOGC) under Taliban control have raised another allegation against the leadership members, accusing them of administrative corruption and project development issues. Sources reveal that the General Director of the company appoints his relatives to new positions and even hires individuals who have failed in the “symbolic” exams, altering their employment status and job titles.
According to an informed source within the company, who spoke to the Hasht-e Subh Daily, the General Director’s cousin, Shaakir, previously held the position of services director. However, when Shaakir failed the “Symbolic” exam, the examination process was canceled, and the job title was changed. As a result, the position of services director, which has been renamed as “Reserves Alteration Director,” no longer officially exists within the company’s structure.
Sources reveal that the role of Reserves Alteration Director demands a specialist with field-specific expertise, ideally an engineer. However, the current individual in charge of operational management, who lacks the required specialization, has taken on this responsibility. This situation poses potential risks to both the well-being and financial stability of the institution. Sources highlight that the General Director has assigned these engineering duties to his cousin, with whom he collaborates in project development and administrative corruption.
According to a reliable source speaking to the Hasht-e Subh Daily, the General Director’s cousin has been appointed as the head of a department overseeing a project valued at around 100 million Afghanis for the current year. Sources reveal that their appointment is linked to manipulating reserves repairs and embezzling funds. Their main objective is to exert control and influence over projects to further their personal interests. It is worth noting that this position is not officially recognized within the company’s organizational structure; it has been established and named solely by themselves.
The Taliban’s reshuffling of positions involves the dismissal of experienced government employees who have extensive work experience, expertise, and a proven track record. They are being replaced with individuals who are loyal to the Taliban and some of their fighters. In the initial months of their governance, the group took actions such as dismissing, demoting, or transferring several employees of the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) to remote provinces.