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Manama: Bahrain's King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa on Monday sacked the state minister who is at the centre of a money laundering probe.

"King Hamad issued Decree 11/2010 dismissing State Minister Mansour Bin Rajab from his position," Bahrain News Agency reported Monday. The dismissal is with immediate effect, the decree said.

According to the Bahraini constitution, ministers are nominated and dismissed by the king and, unlike MPs, do not have any immunity.

Bin Rajab, a former member of the upper chamber (Shura Council) and minister of agriculture and municipalities in 2006 and minister of state since 2008, was arrested on Thursday evening, but allowed to go home following interrogation.

A brief statement from the interior ministry said that an official had been detained following investigation into money laundering operations. The ministry did not name the official and said that it had been monitoring the case since early last year.

Notable absence

However, online forums named the detained official as Mansour Bin Rajab, a state minister without portfolio and an active community leader. The news of his arrest stunned Bahrain and dominated online forums in the morning.

However, the minister in the evening, during his majlis (open house), denied the reports that he was involved in money laundering operations and insisted that he was innocent and that he would resume his work as usual following the weekend. Pressed to say whether he was the official mentioned by the interior ministry, he told visitors to ask their spokesman.

He did not attend the Sunday cabinet meeting and was not present at the weekly gathering hosted by the prime minister.

The trail of dirty cash

The money laundering operations, for which Bahraini minister Mansour Bin Rajab is under investigation, spanned several countries and involved various nationalities, reports said.

A 45-year-old Kuwaiti woman was quizzed in Kuwait City in connection with the case that involved Bahrainis and a Sudanese.

Media reports in Bahrain and Kuwait said the operations were for the benefit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, with Al Watan reporting that they were part of an Iranian strategy to use businessmen and people keen on quick wealth. Tehran did not comment on the allegations.