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Public funds manipulation cases aplenty

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Probe on as corruption seen in co-ops

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 25: Despite the efforts exerted by the cooperative sector in serving the community, providing goods at competitive prices, and offering distinguished offers, some co-op societies have deviated from the right path, reports Al-Qabas daily. The board members of these cooperative societies tampered with the shareholders’ funds, broke laws, and violated the requirements and regulations of the Ministry of Social Affairs. This led to a number of fi- nancial and administrative violations that ended with the referral of the file to the Public Prosecution. This file has turned into something like a chronic disease, as cases of abuses of public funds pile up through the cooperative work portal, and millions of dinars have been wasted in this vital sector. According to informed sources from the Ministry of Social Affairs, 11 cooperative societies were referred to the Public Prosecution during the past weeks, based on the instructions of Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Mishaan Al-Otaibi, to complete investigations on violations that led to the squandering of shareholders’ money. The referral to the Public Prosecution came after reports were submitted by the committees for reviewing the work and financial accounts of cooperative societies, and presented to the undersecretary.

The reports of three committees related to other boards of directors are currently awaiting, indicating the presence of financial and administrative violations or not. Despite the repeated violations, which have become an essential feature of the work of some cooperative societies, the continuous Umrah trips using the shareholders’ money have opened the doors to questions about the reason behind this corruption and the substitution of public money in “superfl uous worship”, which requires an urgent pause to deter these abuses. The Ministry of Social Affairs continues to follow up the inventory files in all cooperative societies.

More violations are expected to be submitted soon to the Public Prosecution,, especially since there are some observations made by the ministry’s inspectors concerning the presence of violations of public money related to the renting of booths inside the cooperative societies without necessary licenses or approvals from the concerned sector, in addition to not dealing with damaged materials in the correct legal manner, which cost the cooperative societies tens of thousands of dinars. There were financial violations worth approximately one million dinars reported against just two cooperative societies, one of which was referred to the Public Prosecution due to the presence of stagnation of goods valued at more than KD 400,000. In the other cooperative society, the stagnation value exceeded KD 600,000. It was found that these stagnations have been piling up for more than seven years without any action from the successive boards of directors and departments of the cooperative society.

Other observations were recorded in terms of dealing with products that are near their expiry date and in the warehouses, as some inspectors noticed the delay in registering them within the expiry period, which led to harm to the shareholders’ funds and is thus considered as one of the violations in the relevant cooperative society. Among the violations committed by some cooperative societies is the non-compliance with the decisions of the committees and the issuance of individual decisions that led to the disbursement of materials or financial cheques or an increase in the volume of expenses without a legal basis to cover them, especially in the school bag distribution festival, the travel season and Ramadan without copies of civil cards for shareholders. Also, some violators committed infringements that amounted to benefiting from the social services authorized to be implemented by shareholders for the personal interests of some members of the boards of directors, such as chalets and Umrah trips. Contracts were signed with companies without complying with the conditions that must be met by the winning party.

Some are suspected of profiteering, which has harmed the shareholders’ money. Other observations include the increasing presence of investment shops in the some cooperative societies that were neither approved nor licensed by the relevant authorities, and non-compliance with the conditions of the ministry regarding the appointment of citizens for administrative jobs and their distribution based on the need for which employment support is being disbursed. It was recently observed that there are several infringements in this aspect in terms of exploitation of some positions held by some members of the board of directors to satisfy their own electoral base.

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