Last updated: 29 February, 2012

Tribunal to probe alleged transfers by Kuwait ex-PM

Kuwait’s public attorney has asked a special judicial tribunal to probe allegations the former premier transferred public funds into his overseas accounts, press reports said on Wednesday.

The action by Dherar al-Asousi came after he received a complaint from a Kuwaiti lawyer who claimed he had evidence to substantiate the allegations, the Al-Watan newspaper reported.

The tribunal, which looks into allegations against serving and former ministers, will rule whether the complaint is serious enough to merit legal proceedings against ex-premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

The government on Thursday asked the Audit Bureau, the state’s accounting watchdog, to examine the alleged transfers and opposition MPs plan to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry.

Opposition MP Mussallam al-Barrak charged in October that Sheikh Nasser, a senior member of the ruling family, transferred around $200 million of public funds into his overseas accounts through the central bank and the foreign ministry.

Around 30 opposition MPs filed a request on Wednesday to form a parliamentary panel to investigate the allegations with powers to interrogate the finance minister, as well the former premier and central bank governor.

But the government used its constitutional right to demand delaying the formation of the panel for two weeks, saying it wanted to study the request.

Barrak told the house that “the transferred funds could be between $400 million and $800 million and we need the committee to search for the truth.”

“The belief that public funds are the private property of the ruling family is wrong… We are partners in governance and public funds,” Barrak said.

Pressure by the opposition and protests forced the former premier to resign in November and led Kuwait’s ruler to dissolve the previous parliament and call for snap polls.

The previous government has denied any wrongdoing, saying that Sheikh Nasser had returned the money to the government agencies.

The allegations prompted then foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah, also a senior member of the ruling family, to resign in October when Barrak sent him a series of questions about the issue.

Three opposition MPs had filed to question the former prime minister over the alleged transfers and another corruption scandal in which 13 former MPs are accused of accepting illegal bank deposits worth an estimated $350 million.

The Kuwaiti opposition, which scored an impressive victory in the February 2 election, has vowed to form parliamentary panels to probe both scandals.