Abu Dhabi: The Kuwaiti Public Prosecution’s letter addressed to parliament has demanded the immunity be lifted of two members of parliament, Saadoun Hammad and Salah Khorshid in connection with the case of human trafficking and money laundering, in which the Bangladeshi MP Mohammad Shahid Islam is accused. Islam confessed that he paid 570,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($1,852,462) to Hammad and Khorshid, in exchange for facilitating transactions to recruit Bangladeshi workers by obtaining exceptions from relevant government agencies, Kuwaiti media reported.
According to the prosecution’s letter, Islam revealed that he gave MP Hammad about 200,000 dinars ($649,987), 50,000 of which was in his home in the south of Al Surra, and 150,000 in checks given by a Syrian middleman, a deputy director of a company, to facilitate his transactions in the country. MP Khorshid was given 370,000 dinars ($1,202,476) in cash in his residence in installments in exchange for bringing in Bangladeshi workers, and exempting him from obtaining government approvals.
The prosecution said investigations by the General Administration of Residence indicated there was an organised gang that trafficked persons for financial gains. The gang consisted a Kuwaiti (the first accused) and Islam (the second accused) used a company owned by the first suspect, to bring in and recruit workers from Bangladesh through fraudulent transactions.
The gang levied between 2,500 dinars ($8,125) and 2,700 dinars ($8,775) in exchange for the promise of job contracts in Kuwait to work for the company, even though it was shut down due to several violations.
After they arrive in Kuwait, workers discovered they are fake contracts and they are forcibly employed in another company, owned by Islam, who authorised an HR official to sign on behalf of the company. The workers were also forced to work longer hours in inhuman conditions, and without paying their wages or providing proper accommodation, in accordance with clauses of the contract.
Workers, who objected to these unfair work conditions, were beaten, threatened to be reported to authorities as absconders. Malicious absconding reports were filed with the authorities against certain workers. Testimonies of a number of workers of the two companies confirmed all these revelations and added that they were brought through a travel agency in Bangladesh, owned by Islam.
By searching the residence of Islam and his company on June 13, the prosecution found bank documents and checks issued in the names of people, some of whom work in official government agencies, and investigations confirmed that Shahid Islam received illegal money, intentionally hiding some of its sources, and that he obtained the money from victims of trafficking in persons, and that he gave bribes to government employees to facilitate his transactions.
On interrogation, Islam initially denied all accusations. But on being faced with evidence gathered from his house and company, he admitted he is the manager of the company, and that the money shown in seized checks was paid to some employees in official bodies to speed up legal transactions.
Islam also confessed he deals with the travel agency located in his home country to bring in workers against cash payments, and that these sums are directed immediately to charity and he does not enter them into his bank accounts.
But he said he is not responsible for all issues related to the employment of workers and the collection of daily sums from them, as well as the workers’ accommodation, which he said rest with other company officials.