x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Kuwaiti MP links government to suspicious bank transfers

Opposition MP claims to have information linking the Kuwaiti government to suspicious bank transfers in the latest twist in corruption scandal.

Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, at the Elysee Palace in Paris for a summit on the post-Qaddafi era on September 1. On Tuesday the minister resigned his post amid corruption allegations.
Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah, at the Elysee Palace in Paris for a summit on the post-Qaddafi era on September 1. On Tuesday the minister resigned his post amid corruption allegations.

KUWAIT CITY // Musallam Al Barrak, an opposition MP, yesterday claimed to have information linking the Kuwaiti government to suspicious bank transfers in the latest twist of a corruption scandal that has embroiled the country's National Assembly.

The firebrand politician made the claim to about 5,000 citizens at the latest in a series of gatherings where politicians have called for the dissolution of the National Assembly. An indication that opposition pressure is taking a toll came on Tuesday when the minister of foreign affairs, Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al Sabah, resigned.

"You are here to denounce the corruption created by Nasser Mohammed's government" which has reached a point that "the people cannot bear", the popular tribal leader told the crowd in front of the National Assembly.

While politicians opposing Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Sabah - currently in his seventh appointment as premier - have held several rallies calling for his removal for nearly two years, their campaign grew in the summer after reports surfaced that the public prosecution is investigating 96 million dinars (Dh1.28 billion) of deposits into the bank accounts of former and sitting ministers and MPs.

Another opposition member of parliament, Faisal Al Muslim, told the crowd that he has "confirmed information" that two cheques, worth about a quarter of a million dinars each, had been issued by the prime minister's office into the bank accounts of two "active" parliamentarians.

Sheikh Nasser "has no right to give any official a cheque from the public fund", Mr Al Muslim said. "He has destroyed the country with the principle that 'this is my money and I will [do] whatever I want with it'."

The prime minister has "used political money to buy a majority in the parliament," the Islamist told the lively crowd.

"During his era, people are eating spoiled meat and drinking impure water," he said.

Ali Al Rashid, the government minister who announced that Sheikh Mohammed had quit and who temporarily assumed the vacant post, did not give a reason for the resignation. The former foreign minister is the second senior royal to resign since June, when Sheikh Ahmed Fahad Al Sabah, the deputy prime minister, quit after an apparent power struggle in the family.

In a sign that the accused, pro-government MPs could soon begin a counter attack earlier this week, one of the parliamentarians implicated in the scandal, Sadoun Al Otaibi, denied "rumours" that he was being investigated and accused "some MPs who attended the rallies" of receiving multimillion dollar gifts.

But last night, the thousands of men gathered around a stage on an expanse of grass between the parliament and the shores of the Gulf laid the blame for the country's political malaise firmly at their prime minister's door.

"The prime minister is doling millions of dinars out like gifts. He thinks it is his money, but it is not, it's ours," said Nasser Al Mutairi who was in the crowd.

"But money's not the biggest problem, because we are a rich country.

"Everyone's coming here to send a message: We don't want Nasser Mohammed any more," Mr Al Mutairi said.

 

jcalderwood@thenational.ae