Former Afghan politician Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani was sentenced to three years of probation and six months of home confinement after he “pleaded guilty to theft of public money, admitting he received over $100,000 in government benefits,” said Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a statement on Wednesday.
The former provincial governor of Herat and former chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) admitted to “concealing and repeatedly lying to the Social Security Administration about his foreign travel and residency,” the report said.
The statement said that Nuristani pleaded guilty on December 11, 2019, to theft of public money, admitting that he received over $100,000 in government benefits by concealing foreign travel and residency between July, 2015, and December 2018.
Nuristani admitted that he applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration in July 2015, it said, adding that He also acknowledged that he knew an SSI recipient must reside within the United States, and that “he was required to report any travel outside of the United States lasting more than 30 days.”
In September 2018, President Ashraf Ghani appointed Nuristani to the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of parliament).
Nuristani received SSI at his claimed residence in El Cajon, California, while serving as head of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission and as an Afghan senator.
“Make no mistake, no one is above the law in Afghanistan or the United States, no matter how prominent or powerful they may be. Our work in this case demonstrates that SIGAR and its partner agencies are fully committed to this principle. Just because someone can get away with criminality in Afghanistan, he or she should not think the same applies here in the United States,” said Special Inspector General John F. Sopko.
Nuristani was head of the IEC from August 2013 to March 2016 and was heading the election commission during the controversial 2014 presidential polls which ended up with the shared National Unity Government.