Leading British barrister Lord Alex Carlile said the Kuwaiti case against Russian businesswoman Marsha Lazareva has done ‘a lot of damage’ to the Gulf state’s reputation.
Lazareva, an employee of KGL Investment Company in Kuwait, was jailed for over 470 days and finally released on a bail 12 million dinars ($39.42 million) on June 13, following a high profile campaign.
Arrested in November 2017, she was sentenced to ten years hard labour imprisonment in May 2018, after being found guilty of charges of embezzlement.
The conviction was successfully appealed on May 5, 2019 when it was discovered the documents used as evidence against her were proven to be forgeries and the funds of nearly half a billion dollars she was accused of embezzling were actually frozen in a Dubai bank.
Lord Carlile, who is one of a global coterie of powerful lawyers acting on behalf of Lazareva, said he hopes the situation can be ‘swiftly redressed’ because ‘nobody wanted to see that damage [to Kuwait]’.
Speaking in a video interview with Arabian Business, Carlile said: “I think it was important to give them [Kuwait] every opportunity to write the wrongs themselves.
“I hope there is now full recognition that the case is just an outrage… and Lazareva should be compensated for what she has suffered.”
Lord Carlile, who is a cross-bench member at Britain’s House of Lords and founder of business strategy firm SC Consultancy along with Sir John Scarlett, the former chief of MI5 – the United Kingdom's domestic counter-intelligence and security agency – said he was delighted that Lazareva is now free on bail but ‘she should have been freed a long time ago’.
Lord Carlile, who acted from 2001 to 2011 as the UK's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, said: “There has been very far from complete disclosure of the material relied on and while she was in prison she was not able to examine the documents on the case in a language that she can understand, which is a breach of the international requirements for defendants.
“There were two major issues; that the so-called Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA) fund of $496 million was ‘dirty money’ and that she had signed three documents that sent money illegitimately to her personal interests, which therefore made her guilty of corruption.
“After a long period of attrition of KPA, they found the port fund money was clean and parts of it had been dispersed to legitimate beneficiaries – so that part of the prosecution case collapsed.
“This has been a terrible injustice. They need to look at the prosecution process. I’m astounded that the prosecutor didn’t pull this case many months ago.”
Lazareva is currently being supported by a high profile team of lawyers and campaigners led by Cherie Blair – who is the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair – Neil Bush, son of former American President George H.W. Bush and Tatyana Yumasheva, the daughter of the late former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Cherie Blair told Arabian Business: “Clearly we remain concerned that the charges are still pending. Given that Marsha’s underlying conviction has been quashed, it is about time she was released. Finally she can be reunited with her family. This is certainly not the end of the road, but it is a step in the right direction.”
Blair’s legal group, Omnia Strategy, is a part of the global legal team representing Lazareva. In May this year, the team filed a petition of complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), requesting an investigation into the case.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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