Manama: A court in Bahrain on Wednesday sentenced two nationals to five and three years in jail and to fines of BD2,000 and 1,000 for taking money from Qatar to assist one of them win in the parliamentary elections held on November 24 last year.

Under the cash-for-influence scheme, the Bahrainis were offered the money via bank transfers and in cash to run the electoral campaign and secure a seat in the 40-member Council of Representatives, the lower chamber of the bi-cameral parliament.

Following suspicions about the two men obtaining cash illegally, a warrant was issued to monitor and record their telephone conversations, which allowed the authorities to confirm the doubts about them.

The defendants were arrested upon their return from abroad carrying cash exceeding 12,000 Bahraini Dinars and 5,000 Qatari Riyals, without disclosing them to the customs officers, the attorney general said.

The cash-for-influence scheme was treated as a violation of the law and interference in the domestic affairs of Bahrain as well as an attempt to influence a constitutional institution, the parliament, and to serve the interests and objectives of a foreign country.

An investigation of their bank accounts revealed that the two men had received transfers that amounted to BD 235,804, in addition to the cash they carried with them into the country.

They were consequently referred to the court, the attorney general said.