Cabinet rejects prosecutions in the sovereign fund probe

KUWAIT: The Cabinet has rejected recommendations by members of parliament to prosecute officials of its sovereign wealth fund for allegedly violating regulations in managing the country’s oil wealth, Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh said on Wednesday evening.

“I assert my confidence in those in charge of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) until proven otherwise,” Saleh told reporters after a closed meeting of parliament to discuss an investigation of the KIA’s London arm, the Kuwait Investment Office (KIO). Kuwaiti MPs travelled to London last year to probe the KIO’s operations and check whether there was enough official oversight of it.

On Wednesday, parliament referred a report on the investigation, as well as another report on a probe of irregularities in sales of state property, to the cabinet.

Details of the reports were not disclosed, but Saleh said the cabinet had rejected a recommendation to refer the information on the KIO to public prosecutors. Instead, he said, a “neutral commission” would be formed to study the reports.

The KIA, which invests Kuwait’s petrodollars around the world, is one of the biggest sovereign funds in the world and is believed to manage about $592 billion, according to estimates by the US-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, which tracks the sector.

Like other sovereign funds in the Gulf, the KIA has come under greater public scrutiny over the past year following the plunge of oil prices, which has pressured state finances around the region. Kuwait’s parliament is the most independent and assertive in the Gulf, and has a tradition of challenging the cabinet for influence over economic management. —Reuters

This article was published on 31/03/2016