Afghan Finance Ministry: Employees steal $1.5M in check scam before being caught

An Afghan Finance Ministry official says two employees stole $1.5 million by sending checks to accomplices, but were caught before they could take millions more.

Assistant to the minister Najib Manalai said Wednesday that ministry officials discovered fraudulent checks cashed at several locations throughout the country, including from a governor's office in northern Afghanistan. The two alleged scammers were stopped before they could steal the full amount — $5.8 million — but $1.5 million was already cashed.

"These were low level employees. They cannot carry this off without the involvement of some very high level officials," he said, adding an investigation is continuing. No other arrests have so far been made, he said.

Afghanistan's government has been accused of widespread corruption, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai regularly promises to curb.