KUWAIT: A senior officer at the salary department of Kuwait Fire Force became the “king of rosaries” among his colleagues and at Souq Mubarakiya after stealing over KD 2 million in public funds and using it to start a business at the famous market, selling expensive ‘misbah’ prayer beads. The suspect reportedly embezzled money for two years and raised his salary several times, with his pay reaching more than the senior-most employee in the state, which went undiscovered, Al-Qabas Arabic daily reported yesterday.

A security source said detectives received information about an official at the salary department of Kuwait Fire Force, whose spending raised suspicions. A senior colleague at work discovered a salary certificate of KD 4,000, although the suspect’s actual salary did not exceed KD 2,000. The source said detectives intensified their investigations and planned the arrest after finding out that the suspect embezzled KD 2 million over two years after mastering a mechanism to raise his salary.

He said detectives found the salary raise was gradual – from KD 4,000 to 9,000, then three months later he raised his salary to KD 17,000. When he felt comfortable and no one had noticed anything, he hiked his salary to KD 42,000, which is the highest salary any public official receives in Kuwait. Detectives arrested the official at work. During interrogation, he admitted to his crimes, adding he did not expect to be discovered as two years had elapsed. Kuwait Fire Force commented on the case, saying in a statement to the press yesterday that the suspect has been referred to the public prosecution for further action.

Underage drivers
In other news, a local daily reported yesterday that 1,808 juveniles were apprehended, whose ages range between 13 and 16 years, for driving in violation of the law and endangering their lives and that of others, especially as they do not qualify to get a driving license. It is notable that this large number exceeds by nearly eightfold the number registered before the pandemic, as 435 juveniles were referred to the prosecution in 2019 for driving without a license, Al-Rai Arabic newspaper reported. According to statistics, juveniles arrested from Jan 1 until Nov 10, 2021 were as follows: 1,264 by the traffic department, emergency (najda) police arrested 479, while general security arrested 65 juveniles.

Security sources quoted in the report warned against the effect of the violations on the employment future of the children, especially those who plan to join the military, as the violation will be on their criminal record. “The ball is now in the court of parents who allow their children to drive at this age before obtaining licenses,” the sources said.