NEW YORK (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors in New York have opened a corruption investigation into a brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
Such an investigation could potentially raise a new source of tension in U.S.-Afghan relations at a time when U.S. casualties are running high in the Afghan war and recent parliamentary elections were tarnished by fraud complaints.
The brother, Mahmoud Karzai, is a U.S. citizen. Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York are considering whether they have enough evidence to bring chargers of tax evasion, racketeering or extortion, the Journal said.
Mahmoud Karzai denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the newspaper, saying, "They (investigators) won't find anything. I'm just a businessman."
The Karzai government has faced other allegations of corruption. Presidential aide Mohammed Zia Salehi is under investigation for suspicion of soliciting bribes. Western media reports have also linked the president's half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, to drug trafficking and having links with the CIA -- charges he denies.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Mohammad Zargham)