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Anti-graft body wants Assembly report on deposits

KUWAIT: The Anti-Corruption Authority yesterday demanded the final investigation report prepared by a National Assembly panel that probed allegations of illegal bribes accepted by members of parliament, a senior official said. Assistant Secretary General at the Authority Mohammad Buzubr said the authority wants to study the report after receiving a complaint from former MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji about claims of a new graft case.

Turaiji said earlier this week that he has filed a complaint accusing several former and current MPs of corruption that involved hundreds of real estate dealings in the five electoral constituencies. He demanded that the Anti-Corruption Authority investigate the new claims and supplied them with documents. He has not disclosed any names to the media.
About 13 former and current MPs were accused accepting millions of dinars in bribes for casting their votes between 2006 and 2009. The public prosecution had investigated the allegations and decided to shelve the case because of insufficient legislation to prosecute the lawmakers. But after a resounding victory by the opposition in the Feb 2012 election, the Assembly formed a committee to investigate the corruption scandal, but could not complete it because the constitutional court dissolved the Assembly four months later.

The investigation was however completed by the new Assembly when the committee was headed by Turaiji himself. The publication of the news in 2011 led to street protests demanding the resignation of the former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who finally stepped down in late November of the same year.

In a related development, opposition MP Riyadh Al-Adasani yesterday criticized the failure of the Assembly to approve the key legislation on conflict of interests, saying this has caused Kuwait to go down further by 10 places on the corruption perception index. He said that the legislation should have been approved immediately after the exposure of the so-called bank deposits corruption case in which a number of MPs had reportedly accepted bribes. Adasani said he will not let the suspected graft in the interior ministry go without a proper investigation and eventually penalizing the perpetrators.

Separately, leading opposition lawmaker Jamaan Al-Harbash, who was freed after serving more than three months in jail, said the opposition will consult carefully with all MPs before deciding whether to grill the prime minister or the interior minister regarding their imprisonment. Harbash was in jail along with MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei and dozens of opposition activists who were handed harsh jail terms for storming the National Assembly building in Nov 2011 following a demonstration against corruption.

They were jailed for three months before the cassation court freed them on bail pending the completion of the trial. Harbash said that they had entered the Assembly building as a reaction to MPs receiving KD 53 million in bribes from former senior government officials, describing the case as the most serious corruption case in the country. Meanwhile, Tabtabaei submitted an amendment to the 2015 law establishing a company to recruit domestic helpers from abroad. The proposed amendment calls to allow citizens to recruit maids directly from abroad after the company failed to resolve the problem of high prices.

By B Izzak

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