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Social Media Influencers Accused of Money Laundering in Kuwait

Social Media Influencers Accused of Money Laundering in Kuwait

Friday, 31 July, 2020 - 07:45
Kuwait is investigating money laundering schemes tied to social media influencers (AFP)
Kuwait- Mirza al-Khuwaildi

The case in which social media influencers are accused of laundering money in Kuwait is but the tip of the iceberg of one of the biggest counter-corruption operations in the gulf country.

In the days following Eid Al-Adha, Kuwaitis anticipate the exposing of the network of which 10 members had their accounts frozen in addition to facing a travel ban.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior has circulated the names of the 10 social media influencers in airports and land borders to prevent their travel.

Before the transfer of the file to the judiciary, the Financial Investigation Unit is working to determine the extensions of money laundering networks inside and outside the country, and to analyze information on what might lead to these networks being linked to terrorist financing or drug trafficking operations.

Public Prosecution, last week, transferred the file of 10 famous social media influencers accused of money laundering operations to the State Security Agency to determine the source of their funds and indicate the legitimacy of these funds.

Sources said that Public Prosecution asked certain countries to provide the authorities with information on the bank accounts of some companies or influencers, and to check the transfers that take place under their names.

A number of social media celebrities came out in video or written recordings, denying their relationship with the charges being pressed against them, while confirming their cooperation with investigation authorities.

Boutiqaat, the leading Kuwaiti beauty e-commerce platform has found itself in the middle of a money-laundering scandal involving social media influencers that has sent shockwaves across the country.

Boutiqaat, in a statement, relayed its full preparedness to cooperate with the Public Prosecution and Kuwaiti judiciary in order to get to the bottom of this scandal.

The local media has reported that social media influencers in question are suspected of using Boutiqaat’s platform to launder the money. The public prosecutor of Kuwait has ordered the central bank of the country to freeze bank accounts of all the social media influencers suspected of money laundering and Boutiqaat. He has also placed travel bans on all of them including Abdulwahab Al Essa, the founder, and CEO of Boutiqaat.

All the bank accounts of Boutiqaat and its founder in Kuwait have been frozen.

Boutiqaat’s investor Boubyan, which had invested $45 million in the e-commerce startup in January 2018, in a disclosure document confirmed that the public prosecutor has ordered the bank accounts of Boutiqaat to be frozen.

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