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Dubai: The Criminal Court in Kuwait has sentenced a member of the ruling family, his partner, and two expatriates to 10 years in prison, while a lawyer received a seven-year sentence, in the largest money laundering case in the country’s history, known as the Malaysian Fund case, Al Qabas newspaper reported.

The defendants have been ordered to return $1 billion and face fines totaling KD145 million (equivalent to half a billion dollars). The case was reopened by the Public Prosecution after a two-year hiatus due to a lack of information from international sources.

Investigations discovered that nearly a billion dollars had been deposited into an influential Kuwaiti’s account before being transferred abroad. The main suspect, the son of a former prime minister, and two other defendants attended a previous session, while another defendant, Bashar Kiwan, did not appear due to criminal rulings issued against him in absentia.

In an unprecedented move in Kuwaiti judiciary, police officer Nasser Al Tayyar, who attended the session with his lawyer Amer Al Shahoumi, claimed civil temporary compensation of KD 5,001 in his capacity as supervisor of the first investigation team and director of the Anti-Money Laundering Department.

The prosecution accused three defendants of forming an organised criminal group that committed money laundering involving Chinese currency equivalent to 343 million yuan (KD700,000), sourced from stolen funds and investments of the Malaysian Sovereign Fund.

One defendant reportedly acquired this money through his company’s bank accounts and his personal accounts at the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s Kuwait branch, using a complex network of financial operations between his accounts and a company account in the Cayman Islands. Two other defendants were charged with money laundering totalling KD21 million, stolen from the investments of the Malaysian Sovereign Fund.