KUWAIT CITY, Feb 3: Kuwait Investment Office (KIO) intends to retain its headquarters in London regardless of its legal dispute with former managers accused of involvement in financial anomalies – unauthorized salary and bonus increments. According to news published on Bloomberg.com, Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) – the parent organization of (KIO) – affirmed that it has no intention to relocate the office as London is considered a major global financial hub. The authority also believes the office will recover public funds in the midst of a legal dispute with the former mangers.
The authority was quoted as saying, “We place our trust in the UK courts to recover the public funds, and to honor the reputation of our colleagues who call Kuwait Investment Office their home.” In 2018, three former managers in the London office allegedly connived to obtain unlawful salary and bonus increments. The State Audit Bureau (SAB) started investigating the alleged irregularities in January 2019, then KIA filed a claim for damages amounting to more than £1 million, which is equivalent to around $1.4 million, in the beginning of last year. All of the accused denied the allegations. In accordance with the Public Funds Protection Law, KIA decided to file a case as the law stipulates that embezzled public funds must be recovered through “all legal measures, in any jurisdiction.” The accused were given the option to return the misappropriated funds, but they did not take such step. Instead, the accused filed a case at the employment tribunal, which will focus on disclosure of KIO documents. For KIA, the former employees’ claims are “retaliatory in nature.”
The authority also asserted diplomatic immunity to avoid handing over “sensitive” documents from its records. KIA confirmed that the dispute has no effect on the recruitment of British nationals in the future, pointing out the office is a place where employees from various backgrounds “help grow the assets of Kuwait’s Future Generations Fund together with their Kuwaiti colleagues.” The authority manages the General Reserve Fund, which is the government’s main source of budget financing; as well as the Future Generations Fund – an estimated $600 billion vehicle designed as a buffer for a time after oil. KIA is known as the world’s oldest sovereign fund and has stakes in ports, airports and power distribution systems around the world. It started in 1953 as a Bank of England account for depositing oil money. Its high-profile investments include a stake in Daimler AG, in addition to 5.2 percent passive stake in BlackRock Inc.