Kuwait pursues corruption charges in Eurofighter jet deal

Gulf country ordered 28 jets made by a consortium of European companies for $8.7 billion in 2016

Qatari Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Kuwait will charge two officers who inflated an order for the fighter planes. AFP

Kuwait’s government has referred two senior military officers for prosecution in a major corruption case related to the purchase of Eurofighter Typhoon combat planes.

An investigation revealed that the price of the jets was improperly inflated.

The country's Anti-Corruption Authority said on Monday that a major general and colonel in the army would face charges over their alleged misuse of public funds.

Officials are ramping up a long-running campaign towards greater accountability as government corruption increasingly causes consternation in public and friction in parliament.

Kuwait ordered 28 Eurofighter Typhoon jets valued at about $8.7 billion from a consortium of European companies in 2016.

The first two planes in the order were delivered to Kuwait’s air force last month.

Kuwait’s Cabinet was informed of the arrests on Monday in a letter sent by the Anti-Corruption Authority, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmed Mansour.

The authority was notified by Sheikh Ahmed and Defence Minister Hamad Jaber about the suspected "corruption" on June 16, 2021.

Kuwaiti Defence Minister Sheikh Hamad Al Ali, left, and Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al Sabah during a National Assembly meeting in Kuwait City on January 18. AFP

“The Cabinet underlined its determination to ‘combat and eliminate corruption in all its forms, and not to be lenient with anyone who may be tempted to infringe on public funds',” the state-run Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) said in a report on Monday.

Investigations revealed that the army officers “caused grave damage to public money by issuing inflated bills to the manufacturer that exceeded the total value agreed upon in the main contract”, Kuna reported.

Kuwaiti authorities said an unnamed whistle-blower helped the government to obtain information about the misuse of funds.

The country's defence minister is expected to face a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly on Wednesday. The motion is being backed by 10 politicians and is related to the Eurofighter Typhoon deal and his recent decision to allow women to join the military.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated: January 25, 2022, 6:49 AM
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