Shahid Islam was charged with human trafficking, money laundering, and exploiting his compatriot workers after testimonies of five Bangladeshis, who confirmed they had paid amounts of up to 3,000 dinars in exchange for coming to Kuwait Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Abu Dhabi: Due to an alleged involvement in human trafficking and money laundering, Kuwait officials have confirmed that a Bangladeshi lawmaker has been arrested. Kuwaiti Public Prosecution ordered remanding MP, Mohammad Shahid Islam, pending investigation, after being referred by the residence investigation department, which arrested him in the Musharraf area on Saturday.

The prosecution charged him with human trafficking, money laundering, and exploiting his compatriot workers after hearing testimonies of five Bangladeshis, who confirmed that they had paid amounts of up to 3,000 dinars in exchange for coming to Kuwait, and that they were also paying annual sums for renewing their residency visas.

Ambassador of Bangladesh in Kuwait, SM Abul Kalam, told Al Rai newspaper that he had heard the news of the arrest of MP Islam and that he was communicating with the Kuwaiti authorities in this regard, explaining, “There are reports about allegations of human trafficking against the MP.”

Bangladeshi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abu Al Kalam Abdul Moamen, said the Ambassador of Bangladesh in Kuwait informed him of the arrest of the MP in a case brought up because of his business there.

“We do not know anything officially,” said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam. “Our embassy is checking with the local authorities. Even a convict is entitled to consular support from the homeland under the law,” he said.

Among the complaints submitted against the suspected Bangladeshi MP, is that he is believed to have provided five luxury cars as bribes to government officials in Kuwait, so that he could obtain contracts for the company he runs there.

In February, Islam, an MP from Laxmipur, dismissed as “false and imaginary” allegations that he trafficked humans to Kuwait.

Kuwaiti media have also accused him of trading visas and siphoning off money to the US for laundering.

Islam told media outlets in his country he was not even involved in manpower export, let alone human trafficking.

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

It added that the trio occupied sensitive positions in three major companies that brought over 20,000 Bangladeshi workers into the country in exchange for large sums of money believed to be in excess of 50 million dinars ($163 million).

The MP reportedly channelled the money to the US to set up a company in partnership with an American national, according to the report.

Islam said he had no links with the man arrested in Kuwait.

Bangla-language daily Prothom Alo reported citing a source in the Bangladesh embassy in Kuwait that Islam is the legislator in question from Laxmipur-2 seat.

A vice-chairman of NRB Commercial Bank, Islam is also chairman of NRB Securities Exchange Company. He sits on the board of Crystal Energy Limited as a director.

With permanent resident status in Kuwait, he is known as Kazi Shahid Islam Papul to his constituents.

He runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO.

The businesses of the company with presence in Kuwait, Oman and Jordan range from waste management, cleaning and janitorial services to security solutions to heavy equipment rental to engineering.

About the Kuwaiti firm, Islam said people from 29 countries work there.