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Ali Al-Baghli
Toying with redlines

OUR Central Bank (the Central Bank of Kuwait) which surprised us with the sixth edition of new bank notes of Kuwaiti dinars provoked non-stop tumult among the citizens, residents and the social networking websites. News spread like wild fire that this sixth edition of new bank notes which resemble the colors of Mackintosh chocolates were not even accepted by the revenue stamps machines. The situation caught the concerned officials and people in a web of confusion. Last week even the Kuwait International Airport had its share of confusion. People who arrive in Kuwait and get a visa on arrival were bewildered because the revenue stamps machines refused to accept the Mackintosh coloured new bills. We convey this message to our ‘Dr Youth Governor’ whose signature stands out on these new currency bills.

On another note the Central Bank of Kuwait which imposes fines worth tens, hundreds of thousands of dinars on our local banks and investment companies for violating its non-negotiable and non-discussable instructions — as if we are a military institution — we ask our ‘oldest’ bank to read a report published on an American website ‘Daily Beast’ which was published by the Al-Watan Arabic newspaper on July 7, 2014. The report talks about relations of GCC countries topped by Kuwait and financing of the socalled Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) which is known in Arabic as DAESH. In this article we highlight parts of this report which are related to Kuwait and the surveillance role that should have been played by the Central Bank of Kuwait. One of the senior officials in the country told the press on July 8, that it was the duty of the Central Bank of Kuwait to monitor the movement of money collected in the name of people fighting the regime in Syria, Iraq and DAESH.

The official absolved the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor of this duty. He said the Central Bank of Kuwait failed to shoulder its responsibility. The report in the ‘Daily Beast’ says the key financiers of DAESH are the rich GCC citizens from Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia — the name of Kuwait is in the forefront. The report goes on to say, ‘The astonishing paradox is that DAESH which is financed by Kuwaiti donors is now allied with the remnants of the Baath regime — the regime which under Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait in 1990/91. Ironically, now Kuwait helps this alliance to come to power. The critical part in the report is a message to the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank — excerpts taken from the speech of a researcher from the Washington Institute for the Near East, says ‘All of you know that the money collected from the Gulf countries passes through Kuwait.

Moreover, the banking system there — he means in Kuwait — has experienced huge problems because this money represents the main source of financing for radical organizations in Syria and Iraq. The most critical part, which is also a message to the minister and the governor, is that the report makes mention of the Brookings Institution in Washington as saying a study it carried out at the end of last year showed ‘hundreds of millions of dollars coming from the Gulf were directed to rebels in Syria through Kuwait’ — the country whose weak banking system or policies allow collection of money for al-Qaeda militiamen. We clap your hands and say: ‘Oh, Central Bank of Kuwait, is this our banking reputation in the world’? Although you roar like a lion in the face of our banks and investment companies, it is apparent — and I hope we are wrong — there are redlines that cannot be crossed either because you don’t want to or because you cannot.

By Ali Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil

By: Ali Al-Baghli

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