Daily Israel Report

Kuwait Corruption Probe in Full Swing

Prosecutors in Kuwait City began questioning 15 former lawmakers accused of selling their votes to the previous government for money.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 12/15/2011, 1:15 AM

Kuwaiti prosecutors began deposing 15 former lawmakers over the source of millions of dinars deposited in their bank accounts in a corruption probe tied to the fall of the previous government.

Hussain Al Hariti and Mokhlid Al Azimi were the first ex-MPs to be questioned under caution on Monday night by the public prosecutor before being release on bonds of 5,000 dinars each ($18,000).

Al Haraiti said that he explained that the money in his bank account was from his work as a lawyer and claimed he presented contracts proving the source.

The wives of two ex-MPs are also expected to be summoned by the public prosecution to explain the suspicious swelling of their personal accounts.

The remaining former lawmakers will be questioned as the week progresses, Kuwaiti media said.

Three of the 18 lawmakers initially suspected of receiving bribes from government officials to sway their votes were excluded from questioning by prosecutors after an examination of their financial records showed nothing was amiss.

The financial scandal caused a political tsunami in Kuwait and was used by the opposition to pile up pressure on the former premier, Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammad, to step down.

Sheikh Nasser has also been accused of absconding with tens of millions in public funds that Kuwaiti banking officials believe now rests in his foreign bank accounts.

Following his resignation, Sheikh Nasser’s cabinet resigned and the Emir dissolved the parliament before appointing a caretaker government.

Observers note, however, that Sheikh Nasser's absence from the halls of power in Kuwait City may only be temporary. Sheikh Nasser has resigned five times since 2006. Kuwait’s parliament has been dissolved three times since 2006 as well.

Under Kuwait's constitution, should the winners of the next elections prove unable to form a government, Sheikh Nasser's government will be reconstituted.