Kuwait arrests army officer over Bangladesh MP Shahid's corruption scandal

Gulf News

11th July, 2020 10:10:17 printer

Kuwait arrests army officer over Bangladesh MP Shahid's corruption scandal

Major General Sheikh Mazen Al Jarrah

The Asssitant Under-Secretary of Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior, Major General Sheikh Mazen Al Jarrah was detained on Friday on charges of bribery, Al Qabas reported.

Al Jarrah is being charged with accepting bribes from Mohammed Shahid Islam, a Bangladeshi MP, in exchange for fast-tracking transactions for the MP’s businesses.

The public prosecution issued a warrant against Al Jarrah on Thursday, after it received information that Al Jarrah is a suspect in the Bangladeshi MP case.

Islam is currently being detained in Kuwait’s central prison and is undergoing questioning.

Officials related to the case

The public prosecution has been questioning Islam to ensure that all parties involved are held accountable. Last week, the National Assembly’s legislative committee agreed to lift immunity on two parliamentary members, Salah Khorshid and Saadoun Hammad. The committee agreed after the public prosecution requested that immunity be lifted as the MPs are accused of being involved in the case.

In addition, last week an official at the Public Authority for Manpower and a former parliamentary candidate were arrested and sentenced to 21 days in prison. The public prosecution is reviewing financial documents that prove their involvement in Islam’s dealings.

Islam’s dealings in Kuwait

After rumours circulated on social media on Thursday, the Ministry of Interior put out a statement denying Islam has Kuwaiti citizenship and that he had been residing in the country legally.

Islam is the managing director and CEO of Marafie Kuwaitia Group, a labour and security contracting company.

The Bangladeshi MP has 5 million Kuwaiti dinars ($16.25 million or Dh69.76 million) in assets in Kuwait. Kuwaiti authorities have frozen Islam’s bank accounts and companies to ensure that he is not moving money out of Kuwait, Al Qabas reported.

Sources have pointed out that Islam provided services to various governmental agencies, between general trade and cleaning contracts.

According to a report by Al Qabas, 20,000 Bangladeshi workers were brought to Kuwait by Islam, in exchange for more than 50 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh596 million).

Islam was arrested on June 8 on allegations of human trafficking, money laundering and bribery.

Illegal permit trading

Last week, Minister of Interior Anas Al Saleh revealed that 282 cases, involving 417 companies, are under review by the public prosecution for illegal permit trading. The practice of illegal trading has become a top priority for the Ministry of Interior and the public prosecution.

A group of Bangladeshi workers told the public prosecution that Islam charged them approximately 3,000 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh35,000) for a visa.

Based on Kuwaiti law, anybody working in the country needs to have a valid work permit that is issued by their employer. Illegal permit trading has been under the spotlight since the beginning of the COVD-19 pandemic. There are approximately 90,000 non-permit holders in Kuwait, many of whom entered the country by paying for a visa.