February 11, 2022

Spurning Demand by the Taliban, Biden Moves to Split $7 Billion in Frozen Afghan Funds

Featuring Alex Zerden

Source: The New York Times

Journalist Charlie Savage

President Biden is starting to clear a legal path for relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to pursue $3.5 billion that Afghanistan’s central bank had deposited in New York before the Taliban takeover, while also seeking to steer a roughly equal amount toward spending to aid the Afghan people.

Beginning that process, Mr. Biden issued an executive order Friday morning invoking emergency powers to consolidate and freeze all $7 billion of the total assets the Afghan central bank kept in New York. The administration said it would ask a judge for permission to move $3.5 billion to a trust fund it would set up to support the needs of the Afghan people, like for humanitarian relief.


Much of it came from foreign exchange funds that accumulated over the past 20 years — a time when the United States and other Western countries were donating large sums to Afghanistan, helping generate that activity. Alex Zerden, a former top U.S. Treasury Department official in Afghanistan, characterized the central bank reserves as a kind of rainy day fund for the Afghan people.

Read the full story and more from The New York Times.


  • Alex Zerden

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Energy, Economics, and Security Program, Founder and Principal, Capitol Peak Strategies LLC

    Alex Zerden is the founder and principal of Capital Peak Strategies LLC, a FinTech, digital asset, and emerging technologies advisory firm. As a regulatory lawyer, economic po...