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Taliban claims signing deal with Cpharm for 'cannabis processing', Australian company say ‘just all lies’

The company clarified that it has nothing to do with the apparent deal with the Taliban, adding that it does not manufacture or supply any products and only provide medical advice to the Australian pharmaceutical industry.

Taliban claims signing deal with Cpharm for cannabis processing,  Australian company say just all lies-dnm
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Sydney NSW, First Published Nov 25, 2021, 5:51 PM IST
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A small Australian medical services consultancy scrambled to clarify after it was caught up in an unexpected publicity storm on Thursday having been wrongly identified in a business deal with the Taliban for bankrolling a $450 million cannabis (hashish) processing plant in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesperson for the interior ministry, Qari Saeed Khosty, earlier claimed that the ruling Sunni Pashtun group has finalised a deal with Cpharm for setting up a cannabis processing plant and the work may begin within days.

“All the stages of the contract with Cpharm have been completed and in a few days the project will be officially launched which will create jobs for many citizens,” Saeed Khosty, Taliban press director, posted on Twitter.

He said that a representative of the Australian company pledged $450-million investment for the project in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan’s deputy narcotics minister met Cpharm’s representative on Tuesday in this regard,” Khosty said.

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He added that the company, which produces medicinal cannabis cream, would be given access to thousands of acres of Afghan cannabis crops. Quoting a spokesperson for Cpharm, Khosty posted on Twitter: “Afghanistan has 6,000 acres of land for cannabis cultivation, and they (Cpharm) need 5000 acres of cannabis.”

The surprise announcement by the Taliban spokesperson left a small Maitland-based company Cpharm inundated with requests for comment. The company clarified that it has nothing to do with the apparent deal with the Taliban, adding that it does not manufacture or supply any products and only provide medical advice to the Australian pharmaceutical industry.

The report was picked up by a host of global outlets including the Times of London, which ran its own story naming the Australian company. Verified Twitter accounts linked to the BBC and Middle Eastern news outlet Al Arabia repeated the claim about the Australians.

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But Cpharm Australia, a family business with 17 staff from the regional centre of Maitland, has never spoken to the Taliban and has no dealings overseas or involving cannabis, it told Reuters.

“We’re just trying to work out what we’re going to do to stop it,” Cpharm Australia’s chief financial officer, Tony Gabites, said by phone from the company’s headquarters, located 166 km (100 miles) from Sydney.

“We’ve had probably 40 or 50 calls today. It's just out of control and it's just all lies, media guys ... not doing any due diligence on what they want to publish,” he said.

(With inputs from agencies) 

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