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Securing the ‘signature’ of a minister to facilitate business is conflict of interest

Parties involved liable to legal questioning

Dr Mohammad Al-Faily

KUWAIT CITY, April 18: Several Constitution experts and legal practitioners unanimously agreed the idea of a lawmaker securing the signature of a minister to facilitate processing of transactions as a form of criminal conflict of interest, noting both the lawmaker and minister involved in the process are liable to legal questioning since the act is prohibited by law, reports Al-Jarida daily.

Constitution expert and professor of public law at the Faculty of Law — Kuwait University Dr Mohammad Al-Faily declared law that criminalizes conflict of interests in the Constitution affects lawmakers since they render public service. He said the provisions of law consider any of the lawmakers who approach the ministers for signature to facilitate transactions as lawbreakers.

He stated the “criminality in this law does not only affect government employees but also covers those assigned with public service. This expression covers the lawmakers, because the art of legislation and monitoring is an aspect of public service to the society”. In his submission, professor of criminal law at the Faculty of Law- Kuwait University Dr Faisal Al-Kanderi affirmed that law prohibiting the conflict of interests did not streamline areas it covers.

However, the stipulation differentiates two instances. One of the two instances is absolute conflict in which an official should withdraw from an interest or abdicate his position or public job. In the case of relative conflict, an official should reveal it and take necessary steps for a solution without it affecting public interest.

He cited Article 10 of the Constitution, which states “it is impossible to limit cases in which a government official or those with such status can have conflict of interests. This means general attitudes should be governed by rules and regulations. Another contributor, a professor of public law at the Faculty of Law — Kuwait University Dr Khalifa Al-Hamidah, referred to Article 2 of the conflict of interest law, which the Parliament approved and made ready for enactment. He added the same thing goes for the provisions of Anti Corruption Authority law, which is applicable to public employees and public officials who are in charge of public services, including lawmakers and judges. “The law prohibits lawmakers from carrying out activities or processing transactions in which they have moral or financial interests. This includes using their influence to make way for relatives, even if it is a fourth degree relative, because they are liable to the penalty if proven,” the legal luminary premised.

Corroborating his learned colleagues, Lawyer Othman Al-Mas’oud reiterated both public employees and those in charge of public service should not be caught in the act of conflict of interests. He specifically mentioned lawmakers and ministers as public officials who should not be involved in conflict of interests. He stressed that “lawmakers should not be involved in the act of influencing processes for their relatives, no matter the distant the relationship or constituents, because it is criminal. Whoever is caught in the act is liable to a jail term with fine and expulsion”.

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