Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, is being investigated for money laundering, and several of his wife's bank accounts have been frozen in connection with the probe.
The Justice Department investigation only became public on Sunday, when a blogger found relevant documents in a garbage container used by a state prosecutor's office in Vienna and posted them online. A day later, Austrian magazine Profil reported on the case.
Since then, Austrian courts have instructed employees to be more careful with sensitive information, a court spokeswoman told Bloomberg.
The investigation centers on a $1.5 million transfer from Khalilzad's bank account to an Austrian account that belongs to his wife. The money came from illegal oil and building contracts in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, according to American officials cited in the papers recovered from the dumpster.
The documents also revealed that the Austrian officials involved in the probe had been asked by their American counterparts to keep the proceedings completely secret.
President George W. Bush appointed Khalilzad as special envoy to Afghanistan in 2001; he became the ambassador to Afghanistan two years later. He also served as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the permanent representative to the United Nations. Khalilzad is now the president of an international business consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
Looks like one man's trash is indeed another man's treasure, especially when that treasure is a ream of secret court documents.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.