Alleged Iranian money-laundering scheme in Kuwait raises global concern
The issue of alleged money-laundering in Kuwait is no longer a local concern, but it is raising alarm in other Gulf Arab and Western countries, sources said.
The sources, Gulf Arab diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Kuwait al-Rai daily that investigations have begun, inquiries that have expanded since claims that Iran was behind plans to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
The investigations are looking into the extend to which some Kuwaiti officials and a businessman are involved in breaking the EU, U.S., and U.N. sanctions placed against Iran.
The alleged money-laundering scheme also involves countries including Germany, Russia and Britain.
According to Al Shahed newspaper in Kuwait, the money deposited in the accounts of two lawmakers, a former minister and a businessman, came in installments of $54,267,200, $180,891,000 and $162,802,000, for a total of $397,960,000.
Al Rai daily, the media outlet that broke the news, said that the amount alleged was $300 million, and that around $180 million was deposited in the accounts after the amount was taken on a private plane from Kuwait to Amsterdam.
The money was then taken to Moscow, where it was kept for four days before it was moved to Iran and then back to Kuwait.
Experts said that laundering money through a third country can help Iran get around the sanctions imposed on it.
In the alleged plot to kill a Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil, a complaint from the U.S. Justice Department claimed that one of the key plotters, Manssor Arbabsiar, an Iranian-American citizen who is now in U.S. custody, was able to transfer of $100,000 from Iran to a financial institution in an unnamed country.
The Justice Department complaint said that the money moved to a bank in New York and was then deposited into an account monitored by the FBI.