Bahrain King sacks State Minister Bin Rajab

March 22, 2010
By
Mansoor Bin Rajab

Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa has sacked Mansoor Bin Rajab, the state minister at the centre of a money-laundering scheme unveiled by Manama on Friday.

“King Hamad issued Decree 11/2010 dismissing State Minister Mansoor Bin Rajab from his position,” Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported on Monday evening. The dismissal is with immediate effect, the decree said. According to the Bahraini constitution, ministers are nominated and dismissed by the king and, unlike MPs, do not have immunity.

Bin Rajab, a former member of the upper chamber (Shura Council) and minister of agriculture and municipalities in 2006 and minister of state since 2008, was arrested on Thursday evening, but allowed to go home following his interrogation.

A brief statement from the interior ministry said that an official had been detained in relation with a money-laundering scheme. The ministry did not name the official and said that it had been monitoring the case since early 2009.

Online forums named the arrested official as Mansoor Bin Rajab, a state minister without portfolio and an active community leader, and news of his arrest stunned Bahrain and dominated online forums early in the morning.

However, the minister in the evening denied from his majlis (open house) the reports that he was involved in money-laundering operations and insisted that he was innocent and that he would resume his work as usual following the weekend. Pressed to say whether he was the official mentioned by the interior ministry, he told his visitors to ask their spokesman.

However, on Sunday, he did not attend the weekly cabinet meeting and was not present at the weekly gathering hosted by the prime minister at his majlis and which he had regularly attended.

Media reports said that the money-laundering operations spanned several countries and involved people from various nationalities. A 45-year-old Kuwaiti woman was quizzed in Kuwait City in connection with the case that also involved Bahraini citizens and a Sudanese national, Kuwaiti media reported.

According to Al Aan newsportal, the Kuwaiti woman and her brother are still held by the public prosecutor, while their accomplice, a stateless man (Bidoon), has been freed.

The report said that the police had confronted the woman with a cheque of more than $10 million that she wanted to cash.

“The Kuwaiti woman admitted that she had agreed to cash the cheque for a commission in Bahrain and that she had met officials who had close ties with the minister in her attempt to use the money order,” Al Aaan said on Monday evening.

The stateless man said that the woman had promised to help him obtain the Kuwaiti nationality and that he was not linked to the cheque deal, the newsportal said.

Reports in Bahrain and Kuwait said that the operations were for the benefit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, with Al Watan daily reporting that they were part of an Iranian strategy to use businessmen and people keen on quick health. Tehran did not comment on the allegations.

Bin Rajab is the first active minister in the Arabian Gulf to be arrested and interrogated.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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