Sherkhan Farnood

WSOPE Bracelet Winner Sherkhan Farnood Dies in Afghanistan Jail

Prominent Afghan banker and prior World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) bracelet winner Sherkhan Farnood has died in an Afghanistan prison while serving a sentence for embezzlement inside the prominent bank he partly owned.

Farnood, 57, was an occasional participant in high-profile poker events when not busy with the operations of the Kabul Bank, which was embroiled in a $900 million embezzlement scandal focused on Farnood, who owned about 27% of the bank’s shares after founding the venture in 2004. Farnood was stripped of his passport in late 2010 after the Kabul Bank scandal became public, then placed on virtual house arrest, and he was finally convicted in 2014.

(Photo source: WSOP.com)

Farnood and another Kabul Bank exec, Khalilullah Ferozi, received 15-year prison sentences and a combined $500 million in fines for money laundering and embezzlement. Farnood was serving his term at a prison north of Kabul at the time of his death. Afghan news reports listed the cause of death as unspecified natural causes, bringing protestations from a brother who claimed to have spoken to Farnood just a day prior to his August 24 demise.

Still the all-time tournament money winner among Afghani players, Farnood’s claim to poker fame was his triumph in Event #2 of the 2008 WSOPE, £2,500 H.O.R.S.E. Farnood earned £76,999 (about $140,000 in exchange rates at the time) for his triumph over a 110-player field, along with his first and only WSOP bracelet. However, that wasn’t his largest poker cash; Farnood earned $165,274 for his runner-up showing in the 2006 WSOP’s Event #26B: $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha (Rebuy), which was won by Eric Froelich.

Farnood led quite the playboy lifestyle until his corruption caught up with him. He had dual citizenship in Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), though he played his poker under the Afghan flag. He owned 16 villas in Dubai, but was unable to visit any of them after being placed on house arrest in 2011.

Reports regarding Farnood’s climb to fortune hint at underworld connections. During the 1980s and 1990s he ran hawalas, unregulated money-lending services that are prominent in the region, while also running business operations out of Moscow, reportedly running into some difficulties with the Russian mafia. Farnood appeared to jump into legitimacy with the founding of the Kabul Bank, but his free-wheeling style eventually brought him down.

In 2009, Farnood used his prominent position at Kabul Bank to circumvent Afghanistan’s banking laws and obtain a loan for another of his companies, Kamir Airways. The $54 million loan allowed the company to acquire five antiquated, Russian-built Antonov planes, and just one year later, one of those planes crashed just north of Kabul, killing all 44 people on board. It was the second major loss-of-life crash involving Farnood’s Kam Air, and the circumstances behind the loan became an element of the larger embezzlement case he would face.

COMMENTS

Leave a Comment

*

LATEST NEWS

filter by

Dan Katz

23rd June 2019 // Gossip, Misc, News, Poker Tournaments

Jeopardy! Destroyer James Holzhauer to Play in WSOP

The other poker players at the 2019 World Series of Poker had better hope that James Holzhauer has some catching up to...

Haley Hintze

22nd June 2019 // Industry, Legal News, Misc, News, Op-ed

Hand Histories and the Data Portability Issue

With hand histories and HUDs (heads-up displays) being a hot news topic in recent weeks, it’s time to revisit the...

Haley Hintze

22nd June 2019 // Industry, Legal News, Misc, News

California Tribes Lose in House-Banked Card Games Legal Battle

A lawsuit brought by three prominent casino-operating California tribal nations targeting certain house-banked games...

Dan Katz

22nd June 2019 // Industry, Misc, News

Electronic Arts VP Says Loot Boxes Are “Quite Ethical,” Not Gambling

The tug-of-war between video game developers and governments over loot boxes continued this week when Kerry Hopkins,...

Haley Hintze

22nd June 2019 // Industry, Legal News, Misc, News

Germany’s Lower Saxony State Bans Unnamed International Online Payment Processor

As part of Germany’s ongoing efforts to block online-gambling operators licensed elsewhere in the European Union...

Dan Katz

22nd June 2019 // Legal News, News

U.S. Reps Introduce Appropriations Amendment to Defund Wire Act Enforcement

The United States Department of Justice recently pushed back its enforcement date for its new interpretation of the...