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Monday , September 26 2022

Shock KIA, minister move

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The Minister of Finance, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the State Sovereign Fund, which manages funds of nearly 800 billion dollars, issued a decision to dismiss Mr Saleh Al-Ateeqi, Executive Director of the Kuwait Investment Office in London, through which the majority of the investments are managed.

The dismissal decision was issued abruptly and immediately without even giving the CEO the usual three-month period. The dismissal, due to its seriousness and importance, reverberated in all Western newspapers, especially the British due to the economic importance of the London office, which will soon reach the age of eighty.

The Financial Times reported that the decision to dismiss Al-Ateeqi came after a period of instability and increased change of senior administrative staff and amid judicial battles with former senior employees of the office, which usually follows a conservative policy in explaining or justifying its investment decisions or regarding appointments and dismissals.

Mr. Saleh Al-Ateeqi started his career as head of the London office in 2018, and before that he worked for McKinsey Financial Consulting. He did not accept the decision to dismiss him in that humiliating manner, and immediately, perhaps out of feeling of injustice, requested an investigation into the circumstances of his dismissal and the Minister of Finance to be prosecuted!

I do not know Mr. Al-Ateeqi, and I have no contact with him, and I will not take a position in support or opposition to him especially since competent authorities are investigating the matter, but I am concerned with the reputation of the state and the reputation of its senior officials, especially after what the former Attorney General, Mr. Dirar Al-Asousi was exposed to, from unexpected behavior in the procedures for terminating his services.

The damage of the wrong behavior with Mr. Al-Ateeqi was bad by all standards, as the reputation of the Kuwait Investment Office in London, which has been operating for eight decades silently away from any scandals, was affected by a scandal that can be described as ethical. Tongues and pens of senior journalists and commentators have afflicted the reputation of the prestigious office, its officials, the way it is managed, and the financial reputation of Kuwait.

It was better for the officials to summon the man silently and terminate his services in a decent manner, while honoring him, if he deserved it, or holding him accountable subsequently, if there is a need.

The KIA erred greatly in the way it handled the dismissal of the Chief Executive Officer of State Investments in London, and the Minister of Finance, the political party in the decision, who is more concerned with the matter, erred, as he harmed the reputation of the office and the reputation of the State’s investments in very difficult circumstances in the global financial markets.

The whole case was not worth all this drama and the legal consequences of the decision of the Minister and the KIA to come. It was not worth this entire costly and exhausting struggle, which the two parties will enter into the corridors of the courts, all at the expense of the reputation of the state and the solidity of its investments.

The KIA, as reported in the prestigious Financial Times newspaper lives these days in a state of chaos, due to the absence of a decision maker, and the fear that the fate of any senior employee in the KIA will be the same of the head of the office.

e-mail: a.alsarraf@alqabas.com.kw

By Ahmad alsarraf