KUWAIT CITY, Aug 8: The government’s statement that Kuwait has nothing to do with the issue of the Malaysian sovereign fund is an early judgment, says MP Dr Adel Al-Damkhi.
He wondered how Kuwait has nothing to do with the issue despite the fact that a number of countries called Kuwaiti banks about the suspicious money transfers. He disclosed that on Oct 4, 2016; Kuwait Financial Investigations Unit (KFIU) received information from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) about suspicious banking operations in relation to one of the accused – a sheikh and his Syrian partner.
He said the relevant local bank informed KFIU that the suspicion may not be related to money laundering, but it could be about a dispute between these two accused. He added that on Nov 30, 2016; KFIU received a call from a local bank about the same individuals, stating the deposits in the bank accounts of the company of the two accused witnessed unjustified growth. KFIU also received a similar call on Dec 11, 2016 about the same issue. He also confirmed that on July 24, 2017; KFIU submitted a report on all the abovementioned calls to the Ministry of Interior as the latter is one of the concerned authorities.
The KFIU then received the response of the ministry, which revealed no money laundering crimes were found and the entire issue is about a financial dispute between the two accused, he said. He went on to say that on Sept 10, 2017; KFIU received a call from ICBC about the money laundering suspicion as a large amount was transferred to the account of a company, which is owned by one of the accused (sheikh) and the money was later transferred to an account outside Kuwait.
After this, the unit received another call from ICBC about the money that the aforementioned company transferred to MCAL Company in Bahamas Island. It was found later that the money was payment for a shipment of items purchased by the sheikh on behalf of another party. The deal was cancelled but the money was not returned to the bank account of the company, he narrated.
He revealed that on July 12, 2018; KFIU submitted a report to the ministry which responded on July 24, 2018 saying the accused owns the Silk Road Company and the ministry did not take any action. He said the unit later received a call from another local bank about the suspicious transaction, indicating a large amount of money was transferred by the Syrian partner to yet another accused without justification.
He added the KFIU submitted its report in this regard to the ministry; which responded on Jan 7, 2019 stating that the money is part of a law firm’s charges. He affirmed that the banks performed their duties but KFIU did not do its job properly; because the unit informed only the ministry, not the other concerned authorities such as the Public Prosecution. He said the unit should have informed all the relevant authorities regardless of the response of the ministry.
He called for questioning those responsible at KFIU and the ministry for their failure to refer the files to the Public Prosecution, indicating the files were referred to the prosecution only during the tenure of Finance Minister Barrak Al-Shitan.
In another development, MP Ahmed Al- Fadl expressed satisfaction over the National Assembly’s decision to reject the governmental bill that allows private sector employers to reduce salaries by 50 percent during the compulsory lockdown. He said the government, represented by Minister of Social Affairs Mariam Al-Aqeel, did not consider the gradual procedures adopted by the whole world under such circumstances.
He asserted that salary reduction is the last resort, pointing out the first step should be for companies to rationalize expenditures such as canceling the privileges granted to the board of directors including first class air tickets and rental of luxury vehicles for the senior staff. He added these companies should also cancel celebrations and unimportant activities before reducing salaries.
He emphasized the need for the government to quickly inject cash into companies affected by the crisis, in addition to granting them other forms of support like loans. He stressed that supporting companies will bear fruits such as boosting the market as this step will reflect positively on the workers. He claimed Al-Aqeel goes against the direction of her press statements and decisions.
Meanwhile, MP Riyadh Al-Adasani disclosed some MPs are claiming that Minister of Finance Barrak Al-Shitan is not responsible for the economic document as it consists of negative points concerning other ministries. He argued the minister is responsible for laying down the financial strategy, final account and budget of the State.
By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff