Sunday, April 11, 2021

Kuwait royal family member arrested in 1MDB money laundering scandal


Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, son of the former Kuwait prime minister, and his business partner Hamad Al Wazzan, were arrested on Wednesday night for money laundering related to the Malaysian fund case, known as the 1MBD scandal, Al Qabas reported.

Attorney General Dharar Al Asousi issued a warrant for the arrest of Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah, earlier on Wednesday, which was then handed over to the Ministry of Interior to search for Sheikh Sabah and arrest him.

The prosecution came to the decision after reviewing all bank documents and financial transactions, linking him to the 1MBD case.

Kuwait royal family member arrested in 1MDB money laundering scandal 1
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“Nobody is above the law in Kuwait and the country’s international reputation is a red line,” a source told Al Qabas. A travel ban has also been issued against Sheikh Sabah.

Connection to 1MBD

Last month, the Public Prosecution obtained files of three Kuwaiti companies that were indicted on charges of money laundering in relation to the 1MBD case.

Back in May, the Kuwaiti Cabinet was investigating media reports that presumably linked Kuwait-based companies to a Chinese company and the former Malaysian government.

The 1MBD case began in 2015 when then-Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged with funnelling money from the 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MBD), a state-owned investment fund, to his personal account. Fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low is the prime suspect in the case.

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According to a report by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Low’s ties to Sheikh Sabah allowed him to gain new business deals and new channels for laundering money. Low and Sheikh Sabah’s relationship began in 2016, as the US authorities were honing in on Low and his activities.

The WSJ said that the Malaysian investigators were able to track money from China to a Chinese bank in Kuwait that was then transferred to an entity partially controlled by Low in the Cayman Islands. That money, approximately $1 billion, was then used to pay for Low-controlled assets in Malaysia to pay for debts related to 1MBD.

Fight against corruption

There have been a series of corruption scandals in Kuwait in the last few months, from the 1MBD scandal to the arrest of a Bangladeshi MP for human trafficking and money laundering.

Earlier this week, the Emir expressed his concerns regarding Kuwait’s image as a ‘hotbed of corruption’.

The Prime Minister also addressed the issue of corruption as he said, “nobody will be protected by their position or name if they have committed a crime that infringes on public money.”


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