Corruption exposed: Bahrain accuses bank officials of money laundering
Bahraini authorities have filed money laundering charges against several executives with a bank controlled by a Saudi billionaire embroiled in a massive cross-border fraud dispute. The charges issued against Awal Bank executives by the country's public prosecutor's office did not identify the defendants, in line with Bahraini law. Authorities said.
Bahraini authorities have filed money laundering charges against several executives with a bank controlled by a Saudi billionaire embroiled in a massive cross-border fraud dispute.
The charges issued against Awal Bank executives by the country’s public prosecutor’s office did not identify the defendants, in line with Bahraini law. Authorities said the case was referred to the Lower Criminal Court for a March 14 hearing.
Nawaf Hamza, the public prosecutor, declined to comment further on Monday or to provide details of who was charged.
Awal Bank is controlled by Maan al-Sanea, who also heads Saudi conglomerate Saad Group. The charges are the first criminal complaints submitted against any officials linked to the bank or Saad Group.
Awal and The International Banking Corp., another Bahrain-based bank controlled by Saudi conglomerate Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Bros., or AHAB, were placed under administration in 2009 after both institutions defaulted on billions of dollars in loans.
The defaults triggered a multibillion dollar dispute between Sanea and AHAB, with the Algosaibis accusing Sanea of defrauding them of almost $10 billion through a variety of means, including forgery, theft and fraud. Cases against the Saad Group head have been filed in several countries.
Sanea has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. A representative for Saad Group in London, contacted Monday, said the company was aware of the Bahraini charges, but had yet to issue a comment.
The Bahraini statement, which appeared both on the country’s official news agency and in local newspapers including Al-Wasat, said the prosecutor’s office would continue its investigations into alleged forgery, money laundering and fraud. It also said that investigations were continuing in other jurisdictions, as well.
Bahrain, whose economy is currently being battering by weeks of protests that have ripped through the Arab world, has been aggressive in its investigations in the collapse of the two banks.
The island nation, which sits off Saudi Arabia’s coast, has built its reputation as a regional banking center and an oasis of transparency in a financially opaque region.
The country’s Central Bank hired forensic investigation firm Kroll to look into the banks’ collapse, but the results of the investigation have not been made public.