Lawmakers scrutinising Kuwait's sovereign wealth fund will soon travel to Britain to check on the activities of its London arm, the head of the Kuwaiti parliament's financial committee told Reuters on Monday. Like other sovereign funds in the Gulf, the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has come under greater public scrutiny following last year's plunge of oil prices, which has put state finances in the region under pressure.
"The first trip will happen after Eid," Faisal Shaya said by telephone, referring to the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr which is expected to occur this Friday. Shaya declined to elaborate on progress in the investigation into potential cases of wrongdoing at KIA, such as selling property at the wrong price or making bad investments.
He had previously said its members would travel to London to check how investments are being made and whether there is enough official oversight of them. The KIA, which invests Kuwait's oil wealth, is one of the world's biggest sovereign funds and is believed to manage about $592 billion, according to the US-based Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, which tracks the sector.
The fund, which has traditionally operated in great secrecy, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday. Kuwait's parliament is particularly sensitive to concerns about possible wrongdoing after an uproar in the early 1990s over investments in Spanish conglomerate Grupo Torras.
The KIA's London office poured about $5 billion into Torras, which then went into receivership. The scandal led to legal action in several countries, the conviction by a Kuwait court of two people for embezzlement, and passage of a law imposing parliamentary scrutiny of investment decisions.
Source: Arabian Business