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Govt denies ‘official’ knowledge of MP Papul's arrest in Kuwait

  • Published at 02:42 pm June 16th, 2020
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Mohammad Shahid Islam alias Kazi Papul Collected

Papul was arrested in Kuwait on the night of June 6 on charges of human trafficking and money laundering, according to reports from various media outlets in Kuwait

The Bangladesh government has claimed that it has no knowledge of the arrest of Member of Parliament (MP) Mohammad Shahid Islam, also known as Kazi Papul, ten days after he was detained in Kuwait.

"We know nothing officially from the Kuwait government and it is hard to comment on this without an official response,” Foreign Minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen told the Dhaka Tribune over the phone on Tuesday.

Government officials got all information on the incident from media reports alone, he said.

Papul was arrested in Kuwait on the night on June 6 on charges of human trafficking and money laundering, according to reports from various media outlets in Kuwait.

“Following the news, we asked the ambassador in Kuwait to find out more about the incident. However, nothing has been reported officially yet,” said Dr Momen.

However, the ambassador verbally notified the ministry that Kuwait is currently under lockdown, making it difficult to find any information.

“We have asked him (the ambassador) to visit offices required to get the information, but apparently, he failed because of the lockdown. Kuwait authorities did not entertain special requests from the ambassador, and they were not pressed either,” the foreign minister said.

He said that Kuwait authorities were verbally requested to provide some information but they have not yet replied.

“Unless we know something official from the government, we cannot say anything,” he added.

According to reports by Kuwaiti media, the Lakshmipur lawmaker was charged with human trafficking, money laundering, and exploiting his compatriot workers.

The lawmaker revealed he had financial dealings with two current deputies and a former deputy in Kuwait’s National Assembly, in addition to a controversial former officer, Gulf News reported quoting Kuwaiti media.

Al Rai newspaper quoted unidentified sources close to the investigations as saying that the information revealed so far was just the “tip of the iceberg,” in the case, which is expected to involve a number of controversial officials.

In yet another Kuwaiti newspaper report, it is stated that Papul is a member of a three-man racket whose other members include another parliament member, whose wife is also a parliament member from the seats reserved for women.

The Al Qabas daily also added that the trio occupied higher positions in three major companies that brought over 20,000 Bangladeshi workers into Kuwait in exchange for large sums of money believed to be in excess of $163 million.

Papul reportedly channeled the money to the US to set up a company in partnership with an American national, according to the report. He runs the Marafie Kuwaitia Group as managing director and CEO.

The businesses of the company with presence in Kuwait, Oman, and Jordan include waste management, cleaning, janitorial services, security solutions, heavy equipment rental, and engineering.

Following his arrest, Papul reportedly admitted that he had paid huge sums of bribes to a senior official at the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry to facilitate his business there.

The prosecution heard testimonies of at least 11 Bangladeshis, who confirmed that they had paid amounts of up to 3,000 dinars in return for coming to Kuwait, and that they were also paying annual sums for renewing their residency visas.

In February, Papul dismissed as “false and imaginary” allegations that he trafficked people to Kuwait. He told reporters that he was not even involved in manpower export, let alone human trafficking.

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