Abu Dhabi: While the circle of indictment widened in the case of the Bangladeshi MP Mohammad Shahid Islam, remanded in custody on charges of human trafficking and money laundering, a government scandal emerged on Sunday, Kuwaiti media reported.
Official sources revealed to Al Qabas over the past two months, a number of government agencies have extended more than four government contracts of companies owned by Mohammad Shahid Islam.
The sources pointed out that the contracts of government agencies were completed years ago, but some of them ended over the past two months, and were extended, in view of the authorities’ needs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The total value of the four contracts is one million Kuwait dinars ($3.25 million), and most of them are related to workers employed as cleaners..
The sources said one of the government agencies, which manage vital facilities, sent a letter earlier this month to the central agency for public tenders to extend the contract with a Bangladeshi lawmaker, starting from July 1 to January 19, 2021, but the agency postponed the tenders for consideration.
They added there is another government agency with religious activity that has recently been assigned additional duties to a company of the Bangladeshi member of parliament, who was managing the cleaning of facilities for only one governorate in the original contract, and another governorate was added to his work, which raised the value of the contract to 720,000 dinars ($2.34 million), and it was also extended until the end of November 2020.
Islam, the accused, runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO and has five million dinars in assets in Kuwait.
Sources revealed that he has four companies in Kuwait, working in general trade, contracting and cleaning of streets and buildings.
Two Kuwaiti lawmakers have been indicted, while three others are likely to be charged in connection with the case of the Bangladeshi member of parliament.
This comes against the backdrop of the Public Prosecution’s demands to toughen penalties for certain offences currently classified as misdemeanors and attract just a small fine.
A source close to the investigation told Al Qabas newspaper that Kuwaiti Public prosecutor has demanded that parliamentary immunity of the two lawmakers be lifted, so that they can be interrogated.
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. “Investigations revealed that two members of the Kuwaiti parliament were involved in the case involving a Bangladeshi member of parliament,” the source said.
Kuwait’s Public Prosecution has ordered Islam and another accused to be taken into custody on charges of human trafficking and money laundering and jailed for 21 days in the central prison.
Prosecutors also ordered the custody of a director at the manpower authority and an official at the Ministry of Interior be extended pending trial.
A businesswoman was released on bail for 2,000 Kuwaiti dinars Dh23,855), Al Rai newspaper reported.
Investigations revealed that the Bangladeshi lawmaker has an annual net profit of about two million dinars, after all his bribes and the money he used to spend on gifts in exchange for facilitating his work to bring in workers from Bangladesh.
Kuwait’s Public Prosecution is continuing its marathon investigation into the case involving the Bangladeshi lawmaker.
Bank accounts frozen
The source revealed that Public Prosecution has seized documents and contracts from the Bangladeshi MP’s company premises since June 6. A document showed 600,000 Kuwaiti dinars were obtained by an agent of a businessman without any formal agreement between him and the Bangladeshi member of parliament.
Kuwaiti authorities have also imposed a freeze on the bank accounts of Islam his company to prevent him from moving his assets beyond the jurisdiction of Kuwait courts.
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 government official, in addition to “bags” of millions of dinars in cash to a third official.
Kuwait prosecution demand reforms into money laundering laws
After investigation of 35 human trafficking cases, the Kuwaiti Public Prosecution has prepared a memorandum to amend the human trafficking laws, sources told Al Qabas.
“Prosecutors found there are non-criminal acts, in addition to penalties for other acts classified as misdemeanors that attract only a small fine, which need to be changed,” a source said.
The source added the Public Prosecution submitted the memorandum to Minister of Justice Dr. Fahd Al Afasi, in which it stressed the necessity of changes some offences from misdemeanors to felonies, and setting tougher penalties in matters not criminalised by the current law.