Friday, January 15, 2021

Kuwaiti military top official arrested for accepting bribes from Bangladeshi lawmaker

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Major General Sheikh Mazen Al Jarrah, the assistant under-secretary to Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior, has been detained for allegedly taking bribes from Bangladeshi lawmaker Mohammad Shahid Islam, Gulf News reports citing Kuwait-based daily Al Qabas.

Al Jarrah was detained on Friday on charges of accepting bribes from MP Shahid, in exchange for fast-tracking transactions for the Laxmipur-2 lawmaker’s businesses in Kuwait which are suspected to be involved in human trafficking, according to the Al Qabas report.

Earlier on Thursday, the public prosecution issued a warrant against Al Jarrah after it received information that he was a suspect in a human trafficking case in which the Bangladeshi MP was implicated.

MP Shahid is currently being detained in Kuwait’s central prison and is undergoing questioning by the public prosecution.

Last week, the Kuwait National Assembly’s legislative committee agreed to lift immunity on two parliamentary members — Salah Khorshid and Saadoun Hammad — upon the public prosecution’s request to do so for the two MPs accused of being involved in the case.

Also, an official at the Public Authority for Manpower and a former parliamentary candidate were arrested last week and sentenced to 21 days in prison in connection with the case. The public prosecution is reviewing financial documents that connect their involvement to Shahid’s dealings.

WHO IS MP SHAHID

Shahid, also managing director and CEO of Marafie Kuwaitia Group, a labour and security contracting company, has been accused of human trafficking from Bangladesh to Kuwait and bribing his way to run his operations in Kuwait.

The Bangladeshi lawmaker has 5 million Kuwaiti dinars ($16.25 million) in assets in Kuwait, which have been frozen by the country’s authorities after he was brought under investigation.

According to a report by Al Qabas, 20,000 Bangladeshi workers were brought to Kuwait by Shahid in exchange for more than 50 million Kuwaiti dinars.

Many of them were reportedly brought to the country using illegal work permits.

MP Shahid was arrested on June 8 on allegations of human trafficking, money laundering and bribery.

A group of Bangladeshi workers also told the public prosecution that Shahid had charged them around 3,000 Kuwaiti dinars each for a visa.

According to Kuwaiti law, anybody working in the country needs to have a valid work permit that is issued by their employer, according to the Gulf News report.

Illegal permit trading has been under the spotlight since the beginning of the Covd-19 pandemic.

There are approximately 90,000 non-permit holders in Kuwait, many of whom entered the country by paying for a visa, the Gulf News report added.

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