Kuwait Freezes $16m of Bangladeshi Lawmaker’s Assets

Bangladeshi member of parliament, Mohammad Shahid Islam, taken into custody in Kuwait on charges of human trafficking and money laundering, had 5 million Kuwaiti dinars ($16.25 million or Dh69.76 million) in assets in Kuwait,  the Gulf News reported on Sunday quoting Kuwaiti media.

The accused runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO.

Sources close to the investigation told Al Qabas that Kuwaiti authorities have imposed a freeze on the bank accounts of the Bangladeshi lawmaker and his company.

“The balance of the company is about five million dinars, of which three million dinars is the capital of the company,” sources revealed.

‘Restraining breaches’

They said freezing of assets is part of a legal measure to prevent the Bangladeshi lawmaker from moving his assets beyond the jurisdiction of a court in Kuwait. “It is variously construed as part of a court’s inherent jurisdiction to restrain breaches of its process,” the sources added.

It was further revealed that the residency investigation officers, acting on a warrant, had seized all the funds in the company’s treasury, all documents and correspondence, in addition to footage from the surveillance cameras to identify any potential accomplice of the defendant.

More arrest warrants likely

Sources said until Thursday, the number of Kuwaiti officials under investigation had increased to nine. The number is expected to go up, based on further investigations and confessions.

Sources said further arrest warrants will be issued against whoever is found to have received bribes or gifts to execute transactions on behalf of the accused Bangladeshi.

Earlier, witnesses said the Bangladeshi MP would act like a mafia boss, demanding ‘taxes’ from the poor and low-income workers, Al Rais reported.

“The accused’s men imposed a ‘royalty’ on workers, at a value of 8 dinars per day,” a witness said.

 Witnesses give rare glimpse of Bangladeshi MP’s grip on compatriot workers in Kuwait

 ‘Bags’ of millions of dinars

During interrogation, Islam reportedly confessed to have provided 1.1 million dinars by cheque to an official at the Ministry of Interior, one million dinars in cash to another official, in addition to “bags” of millions of dinars in cash to a third official, Kuwaiti media reported.

Maryam Al Aqeel, the Minister for Social Affairs and Minister of State for Economic Affairs, has ordered the suspension of a senior official in the Public Manpower Authority for three months, at the request of the Public Prosecution, regarding an investigation conducted against him for his alleged involvement in human-trafficking.

Trading in work permits

Prosecutors heard testimonies from scores of Bangladeshi workers who had been brought into Kuwait by the accused, from Bangladesh, for money. The Bangladeshi MP has also been accused of trading in work visas and siphoning off money to the United States for laundering.

According to Al Qabas, the suspect is part of a three-member racket whose other members include another Bangladeshi MP, whose wife is also an MP from a seat reserved for women.

The Al Qabas report added that the trio occupied sensitive positions in three major companies that brought over 20,000 Bangladeshi workers to Kuwait in exchange for more than 50 million dinars ($163 million).

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