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Kuwait customs chief sacked over container smuggling
January 4, 2017, 1:02 pm

 Kuwait’s head of customs has been sent into retirement following a nationwide controversy over the smuggling of containers of liquor into the country. The action against Khalid Al Saif by Finance Minister Anas Al Saleh “based on the civil service laws and on public interest” was announced on Monday following high pressure from lawmakers who were highly critical of how two containers had left Shuwaikh Port last week without being searched were later found to carry liquor.

Several MPs called for a parliamentary investigation that would have been the first by the parliament elected on November 26 with several of its members having pledging to fight all types of corruption and irregularities.

The police identified the five suspects, all Indian nationals, involved in the smuggling of the containers past the customs. The head of the gang was detained as he was about to leave Kuwait on Saturday while another suspect was also arrested in Kuwait and another in the UAE.

The other suspects managed to reach India, the interior ministry said.

The questioned suspects confessed they had smuggled in another container that carried alcohol and firecrackers. However, several lawmakers said that they wanted the authorities to dig deeper into the issue, arguing that 11 containers had been smuggled past the customs officers. MP Thamer Al Suwait said that a parliamentary committee should be set up to look into irregularities at the port.

“This is a grave security concern that cannot be ignored, and the finance minister has to assume the responsibility,” the lawmaker said, quoted by Kuwaiti daily Al Rai on Tuesday. “We want the names of the owners of the companies that used the containers as we are not content with the names of those who are used as smokescreen.”

MP Waleed Al Tabtabai said that Kuwaitis were looking forward to answers on who stood behind the smuggling. “People want to know how it happened and whose negligence and failure allowed the smuggling,” he said. “The mystery of how containers could leave the pert without being searched has to be solved and those found guilty should be held accountable.”

Another lawmaker, Khalil Abdullah, said that he wanted genuine clarifications about reports that 11 containers had left the port in late November last year without being searched.

Source: Gulf News

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