KUWAIT CITY, Jan 5: High-level cooperation between the Kuwaiti and UK authorities has led to the arrest of four expatriate accountants working for the Kuwait Health Office, London, reports Al-Rai daily quoting a reliable source familiar with the issue.
The source pointed out joint investigations carried out by both governments unearthed theft of Kuwaiti public money estimated to be in millions of Sterling pounds – to be precise 13 million — equivalent to about KD 5 million. According to the source, investigations revealed the public money had been embezzled in an organized manner from the Kuwaiti Health Office spearheaded by four accountants who worked at the health office in collaboration with a group of 20 doctors working in several British hospitals.
The investigation also proved the money had been siphoned into secret accounts since 2009. The same source added the fraud came to light when the Kuwaiti Health Attaché in London Faisal Al-Saffi got himself involved into the investigation immediately after his appointment about a year-and-ahalf ago after the British Police (Scotland Yard) had begun secret investigations acting on a tip-off on the illegal activities at the Kuwaiti Health Office.
The source explained the British police in cooperation with the Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kuwait Embassy in London monitored the bank accounts of the suspects and found suspicious money transfers into the accounts of doctors and the accountants. After the arrest of the suspects it was revealed the transfers were made by the Kuwait Health Office in the name of payment of treatment bills to hospitals in London.
The source added Al-Saffi also discovered the involvement of a pharmacy, owned by an Iranian. The source added the Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs then followed up the investigations made by Scotland Yard and a report showed 20 doctors collaborated with the accountants to embezzle about £3 million and the share of the pharmacy was £10 million which had been embezzled on the strength of forged bills.
The source indicated the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had informed the former minister of health, Dr Ali Al-Obeidi the details of the case more than 6 months ago and attempts have been made to restore the embezzled money. The source expressed surprise at the lack of control in the financial sector of the Ministry of Health because the money continued to be embezzled over the years without being discovered. The Health Ministry has been urged to take effective measures to protect public money and to ensure expenses are properly accounted for.