Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Kuwaiti social media influencers named in online money laundering probe

Fouz Al Fahad, Farah Al Hady and other high-profile personalities are part of an investigation into e-commerce site Boutiqaat.com

Beauty influencer Fouz Al Fahad is among 10 influencers being investigated by the Kuwaiti interior ministry. Instagram / @therealfouz
Beauty influencer Fouz Al Fahad is among 10 influencers being investigated by the Kuwaiti interior ministry. Instagram / @therealfouz

Kuwait’s interior ministry has named 10 social media influencers connected to a money laundering investigation into e-commerce site Boutiqaat.com.

A travel ban was placed on them and about 30 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh360m) in bank accounts frozen, local media reported. Assets being investigated include luxury yachts, jewellery and watches.

Authorities are investigating allegations that the Kuwaiti website was used to launder money. Boutiqaat’s headquarters has reportedly been raided by authorities.

Boutiqaat allows people to set up online boutiques and most of the influencers named by the ministry have shops on the platform. The website was co-founded by Abdulwahab Al Essa, who is also under investigation, and was valued at $500 million last year, Reuters reported.

Mr Al Essa is a regular TV pundit and is running to be a member of parliament in Kuwait’s November election.

One of the most high-profile influencers named is Fouz Al Fahad, a social media personality and entrepreneur who owns The Real Fouz Beauty Salon in 8 Mall, Salmiya, and has more than three million Instagram followers.

In March, she married, but did not reveal her new husbands name.

Farah Al Hady, whose fashion, food and beauty Instagram account has more than five million followers, was also named. She recently collaborated with cosmetics brand Mac to create a lipstick and is married to Iranian actor Aqeel Al Raisi.

Also named were Dana Al Tuwarish, a Kuwaiti-Iraqi beauty entrepreneur who once said she earns about Dh53,000 a day from her social media activities, and Mishari Buyabis, who has previously been questioned over his socially and politically critical tweets.

Others named by the ministry are Halema Bouland, a TV presenter and former model, Jamal Al Najada, who posts about fashion and beauty on Instagram under the name of Jamal Collection, Shifa Al Kharaz, who works for a tourism and excursion company, and Yaqub Boushehri, known on Snapchat as BoKhaled.

Two weeks ago Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior said it had dismantled a money-laundering ring, arresting two people and seizing assets in a “massive operation across the country”, Kuna reported.

Updated: July 28, 2020 05:00 PM

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