Abu Dhabi: Kuwait’s Public Prosecution has ordered Bangladeshi member of parliament, Mohammad Shahid Islam and another accused, taken into custody on charges of human trafficking and money laundering, to be jailed for 21 days in the central prison, Kuwait media reported.
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 KD2,000 ($6,500) bail, Al Rai newspaper reported.
Investigations revealed that the Bangladeshi lawmaker has an annual net profit of about two million dinars ($6.5 million), after all his bribes and gifts he spends in exchange for facilitating his work to bring in workers from Bangladesh.
Kuwait’s Public Prosecution is continuing its marathon investigation into the case of the MP.
A source familiar with prosecutors’ investigations told Al Qabas that two of the accused had been issued with a warrant of arrest, but they have so far been hidden from view.
The source said that one of them, a Kuwaiti official, had obtained a cheque worth one million dinars ($3.25 million), through his dealings with the Bangladeshi lawmaker, to employ Bangladeshi workers in government agencies. “Therefore, it is paramount for prosecutors to know the details of these transactions,” the source said.
The source pointed out that the Public Prosecution seized documents and contracts from within the Bangladeshi MP’s company, under pre-judgement attachment since June 6. A document showed 600,000 Kuwaiti dinars ($1.95 million) said to have been obtained by an agent of a businessman without knowing the reason and without an agreement between him and the Bangladeshi member of parliament.
The accused runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO.
Mohammad Shahid Islam had 5 million Kuwaiti dinars ($16.25 million or Dh69.76 million) in assets in Kuwait.
Sources close to the investigation told Al Qabas that Kuwaiti authorities have imposed a freeze on the bank accounts of the Bangladeshi lawmaker and his company.
They said freezing of assets is part of a legal measure to prevent the Bangladeshi lawmaker from moving his assets beyond the jurisdiction of a court in Kuwait.
More arrest warrants likely
Sources said the number of Kuwaiti officials under investigation has risen to seven.
Earlier, witnesses said the Bangladeshi MP would act like a mafia boss, demanding ‘taxes’ from the poor and low-income workers, Al Rai reported.
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“The accused’s men imposed a ‘royalty’ on workers, at a value of 8 dinars per day,” a witness said.
Witnesses give rare glimpse of Bangladeshi MP’s grip on compatriot workers in Kuwait
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 official, in addition to “bags” of millions of dinars in cash to a third official, Kuwaiti media reported.
Maryam Al Aqeel, the Minister for Social Affairs and Minister of State for Economic Affairs, has ordered the suspension of a senior official in the Public Manpower Authority for three months, at the request of the Public Prosecution, regarding an investigation conducted against him for his alleged involvement in human-trafficking.
Trading in work permits
Prosecutors heard testimonies from scores of Bangladeshi workers who had been brought into Kuwait by the accused, from Bangladesh, for money. The Bangladeshi MP has also been accused of trading in work visas and siphoning off money to the United States for laundering.
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.
The Al Qabas report added that the trio occupied sensitive positions in three major companies that brought over 20,000 Bangladeshi workers to Kuwait in exchange for more than 50 million dinars ($163 million).