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Officials linked to Bangladesh MP in visa trading scam: Saleh

Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Interior Minister Anas Al-Saleh said yesterday that “officials” are involved in one of the largest trafficking in people cases operated by “an Asian expatriate”, in a clear reference to a Bangladeshi lawmaker who is under investigations by authorities. Saleh wrote on his Twitter account that “great efforts” were carried out in the past few weeks by the interior ministry leading to “uncovering one of the largest trafficking in persons and residency cases by an Asian expat”.

He said that investigations have uncovered “suspicious financial transactions that were carried out by a network of officials in collaboration with companies which facilitated the transactions”. Authorities have arrested a Bangladeshi MP after he arrived in the country on suspicion of running large-scale visa trading operations in cooperation with Kuwaiti officials and firms.

“All those found to be involved – whether they are government officials or prominent personalities – will be interrogated by the interior ministry and will be referred to the public prosecution to complete the legal process,” the minister said. Saleh provided no details about the operations or the number of people and victims involved in the scam.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Kuwait launched a campaign against visa traders and arrested dozens of people, including police officers. “Trafficking in persons and residency is accorded top priority by the interior ministry,” said the minister, adding that efforts exerted by interior ministry officials have achieved good progress, insisting that Kuwait’s security is a red line.

MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari yesterday demanded the names of all suspects linked to the Bangladeshi MP should be published, including government officials and MPs. Local media reported that the Bangladeshi MP has been dealing with at least two current Kuwaiti lawmakers and a former MP.

Kandari also asked the interior ministry about the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund scam in which a number of Kuwaitis are suspected to be involved. He said that a report in the Wall Street Journal last week said the main suspect in the scam, a Malaysian businessman, was allowed entry into Kuwait in 2016 although he was wanted by Interpol. He demanded to know if this is true and who facilitated his entry.

Meanwhile, the government is expected to ease lockdown restrictions because of the coronavirus as the country moves next week into the second phase of the return to normal life. Government offices are expected to reopen but only with 30 percent capacity, the curfew will be further eased to start at  9 pm instead of 6 pm to 6 am and the lockdown on some areas, mainly Hawally, is expected to be eased.

The Cabinet will also review two grillings against the ministers of education and finance, expected to be debated on June 16 or 17. The Assembly is expected to resume its regular sessions on Tuesday following several weeks of suspension due to the coronavirus, and is scheduled to debate a large number of issues.

MPs have sent a letter demanding that all issues related to expats and the population structure should be sent to the Assembly’s human resources committee, whose main function is to find jobs for Kuwaitis. MPs have demanded that drastic measures are taken to reduce the number of expats in the country and have submitted draft laws to achieve this target. But such issues require a long time to carry out.

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