Kuwait probes alleged graft in French helicopter deal

AFP , Wednesday 20 Dec 2017

Kuwait has ordered an investigation into a $1.1 billion deal to buy 30 military helicopters from France, a minister said on Wednesday, after reports of alleged kickbacks.

The oil-rich emirate agreed to buy the Airbus Caracal helicopters for one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in August 2016 as part of a package of deals between the two countries worth 2.5 billion euros.

"It was decided to refer the Caracal helicopters deal to the Public Anti-Corruption Authority to investigate it and take all relevant measures," said Anas al-Saleh, the government spokesman and state minister for cabinet affairs.

The probe was ordered by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah, the minister said, quoted by the official KUNA news agency.

"With regards to what has been raised in a local daily today... about the Caracal deal, it was also decided to refer the same issue to the Audit Bureau to scrutinise all data, documents and procedures of the deal," he added.

The Audit Bureau was told to submit its findings to the cabinet as soon as possible.

The government move came after opposition lawmaker Mubarak al-Hajraf raised the issue in parliament on Wednesday and demanded an investigation.

He based his arguments on a report by Kuwait's Al-Rai newspaper which cited an article in the French Marianne magazine which said that a middleman had demanded tens of millions of euros from Airbus as a commission.

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