x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Reports: Fifteen Kuwaiti MPs suspected of money laundering

The central bank had told prosecutors that bank accounts held by the 15 lawmakers "have received suspicious deposits and the anti-money laundering law applies to them," Al-Jarida newspaper reported, citing informed sources.

KUWAIT CITY // Millions of dollars have been deposited suspiciously into the bank accounts of 15 Kuwaiti members of parliament suspected of money laundering, media have reported.

The central bank had told prosecutors that bank accounts held by the 15 lawmakers "have received suspicious deposits and the anti-money laundering law applies to them," Al-Jarida newspaper reported, citing informed sources.

The allegation was widely reported in the state's media yesterday.

In September, the public prosecutor launched an unprecedented inquiry into the bank accounts of the 15 MPs after three banks informed him that large deposits were added to the accounts from unknown sources.

The case was one of several issues that forced the former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al Ahmad Al Sabah to resign this week.

Al-Jarida said the prosecutor planned to ask parliament to lift the immunity of the suspected MPs to question them to determine the source of the money.

The opposition has alleged that the funds, estimated at nearly 100 million dinars (Dh1.3 billion), were paid by the government to secure votes on crucial issues, including motions of no confidence against the premier and his ministers.

The Kuwaiti government has denied the allegations.

Al-Jarida said the largest deposit for one MP was 2 million dinars and 5 million dinars in his wife's account.

The central bank governor, Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al Sabah, said on Tuesday that the bank has written back to the prosecutor about the suspicious deposits without revealing details.

Also, the public prosecutor ordered the release on bail of 24 youth activists who had been held in detention over the storming of parliament last month, their lawyer said.

"A decision has just been issued to release all the 24 people on a bail of 1,000 dinars each," Al Humaidi Al Subaie, who heads the legal defence team of the activists, said.

Hundreds of opposition activists overran parliament on November 16 after clashes with riot police that followed a large protest to demand the prime minister's resignation and the dissolution of parliament.