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Wed 1 May 2013 10:14 AM

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Kuwait said to probe $17.6m corruption claims

Allegations of misuse of funds and bias in tender process within former governments emerge

Kuwait said to probe $17.6m corruption claims

Kuwait will investigate allegations of corruption within former governments relating to KD5m ($17.6m) worth of public money, local media has reported.

The case is believed to be one of the largest government corruption cases in the country’s history and involves alleged misuse of public funds and bias in the management of tenders.

The new Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Thekra Al-Rashidi, reportedly filed four cases relating to the complaints after assuming office earlier this year. The issue had been overlooked by three of her predecessors.

One complaint involved the purchase of brand new cars that were never used and some cars being used for excessive travel, local Arabic newspaper Al-Rai reported, quoting an anonymous source.

It is not clear who the allegations are against.

Transparency International, an anti-graft watchdog based in Berlin, ranks the Gulf country 54th of 180 countries in its 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, with a score of 4.6. A score of 10 indicates no corruption.

“Both the cases indicated that subcontracting between the company and people within the ministry was involved,” the source was quoted as saying.

“[I expect] current and former undersecretaries and senior officials to be summoned for investigations.”

Kuwait has been marred by corruption for years.

In 2011, the public prosecutor launched an investigation into nine members of parliament after two banks raised alarm bells over the transfer of $92m into the bank accounts of two MPs.