Abu Dhabi: Kuwait’s Ex-Defence Minister, Sheikh Khaled Al Jarrah Al Sabah (subsequently Minister of the Interior) has filed a $160 million court case in California, Kuwaiti media reported.
Al Jarrah claimed last August that he had been swindled over a fraudulent property sale of The Mountain - a vast residential site twice the size of Disneyland that towers over Hollywood’s prestigious Beverley Hills - possibly the world’s premier chunk of real estate.
But how did Al Jarrah get the money in the first place? This is a question everyone in Kuwait is asking.
Al Jarrah’s replacement at the Ministry of Defence Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah - the son of the Emir - undertook an investigation into funds missing from the ministry and found that since 2009 large sums had been directed into a group of so-called Military Aid Fund accounts based in branches of Kuwaiti banks in London.
World’s most expensive property
This money then found its way into private accounts, according to Sheikh Nasser, who reported he believed this was the source of the money with which the former Defence Minister had sought to buy possibly the world’s most expensive property.
Al Jarrah is also a known close political associate of former prime minister, Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, whom he had in fact succeeded as defence minister in 2013. It is Sheikh Jaber’s son, Sabah Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah (Sheikh Sabah), together with his lawyer Saud Abdulmohsen and a college friend of the Malaysian fugitive financier Jho Low, who have spent several days in custody answering questions about the apparent separate laundering of billions of dollars that were sent in kickbacks from China linked to 1MDB.
The accusations by Sheikh Nasser brought down the Kuwaiti government last November, meaning both he and the prime minister were replaced.
Those suspects have now been released on bail, pending further enquiries on a case that has taken on similar proportions in Kuwait to 1MDB in Malaysia, as anti-corruption campaigners associated with Sheikh Nasser and now the Kuwait authorities have battled to get answers from those who deny all the allegations.
US Ambassador to Kuwait, Alina Romanowski, has praised the efforts of the Kuwaiti government in following international standards and law enforcement, citing the prosecution of violators in human trafficking cases from officials and others before the judicial system.
In the case of Najib Razak’s own extensive denials over 1MDB, the US prosecutors have now sunk their arguments with apparently devastating evidence provided by the IRS Criminal Division (the US tax authorities) of the money trails in their case against “Official #1”″ filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
Over $100 million was illegally transferred by the former Kuwaiti Minister of Defense, was used to purchase the assets he was then defrauded over, say the US investigators, and the money had indeed originated from thefts from the suspect Military Aid Fund accounts in London.
In a familiar if ironic twist on the related 1MDB saga, “Official #1”″ had complained in his original complaint against the alleged fraudster Victorino Noval that instead of transferring him the property he had taken the money and purchased, either directly or indirectly, multiple parcels of real property and personal property, including, but not limited to exotic automobiles, aircraft and boats. Plaintiff is further informed and believes that Victorino and Franco converted the monies to their own use by supporting their lavish and extravagant lifestyle and spent significant amounts of Plaintiff’s monies on, among other things, leasing real property for their personal use, hosting parties, exotic dancers, wine, worldwide travel, gambling, and paying personal staff, including but not limited to numerous limousine chauffeurs.
However, this money was not the Sheikh’s to complain about it would appear, but rather it belonged to the people of Kuwait whose interests he had been entrusted to protect.