Kuwait Image Credit: File photo

Abu Dhabi: The bust of a money laundering gang in Kuwait masterminded by an Iranian in collusion with others, including Kuwaitis, helped disclose the secret of the sudden fortune some social media influencers have made, Kuwaiti media reported.

Informed sources told Al Rai the mastermind of the money laundering network holds Iranian nationality and among the accused are a number of Kuwaitis and Kurds.

Investigations revealed wide-ranging relations between the accused with others, who formed other subnets of suspicious financial operations, the sources said.

Kuwait’s Public Prosecution has received 10 complaints against five influencers after their bank accounts dramatically inflated. Warrants will be issued once state security intelligence is gathered.

The investigations also linked the Iranian mastermind of this network to a high profile defendant in the human trafficking and money laundering case involving Bangladeshi member of parliament, Mohammad Shahid Islam, taken in custody pending trial.

The Kuwaiti Public Prosecution has demanded the parliament lift immunity of two members of parliament, Saadoun Hammad and Salah Khorshid in connection with the case of human trafficking and money laundering, in which Islam is accused.

The common factor among these money laundering rings is luxury cars, watches, precious jewelry and yachts, which are one of the most important means to conceal money laundering operations.

The money laundering operations may be local only, and may be regional or global, the sources said.

The sources pointed out, “The possibilities of two Kuwaiti brothers being involved in money laundering operations, one of them had started an automotive business since the 1990s, and contributed financially to support and help one of the current member of parliament in to win a seat. That Kuwait MP is accused in the case of the Bangladeshi member of parliament and he is a close friend of a high profile businessman, who purportedly through money laundering operations expanded his activity to several companies, real estate, and residential and commercial complexes.”

The sources said one of the media influencers suspected of money laundering, recently bought a watch valued at approximately KD80,000 (approximately $260,000) through an auction. Another suspected celebrity has been keen, during travel to European countries, to ship luxury cars to show off there, especially in London.

The sources revealed that another influencer, who is a close friend close a sheikh, was promoting luxury cars owned by the Iranian mastermind of the money laundering gang, noting that investigations showed there were financial transactions between him and one of the accused in the case of the Bangladeshi MP.

Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior said a money laundering ring has been dismantled, with police arresting two suspects and seizing valuable assets in a massive operation across the country.

The move came after months of continuous tracking of the criminal network as part of the ministry’s efforts to counter money-laundering, bribery, illicit gaining and illegal acts that jeopardise public interests, the ministry said in a press statement.

After completing relevant investigations, police raided the hideout of the ring’s mastermind and main suspect at a chalet in the southern Bnaider area.

Police have also searched four other sites used by the suspect including a house, a farm in the southern Al Wafra farms in Al Ahmadi province, and two apartments - one in Kuwait City and the other in Al Salmiya district in the Hawally province.

Police confiscated several valuable assets including luxury, classic cars, motorbikes, expensive watches and jewellery, sums of money in different currencies, and boxes of alcoholic drinks.

The relevant bodies have arrested one suspected ring member at Kuwait International Airport prior to his departure from the country. Investigations are ongoing to apprehend all members of the network and once all investigations are completed, the suspects will be put on trial, police said.

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, has addressed his concerns over attempts being made to portray Kuwait as a hotbed for corruption.

The Emir called upon the Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority to contain the spread of false accusations and unjust campaigns with regard to corruption in Kuwait.