The Kuwait Cabinet on Sunday approved a draft anti-corruption law meant to combat the country's growing business corruption troubles. The law imposes penalties of up to seven years in prison [Reuters report] for a number of offenses related to money laundering and financial disclosure, including manipulation of public tenders and auctions, bribery, counterfeiting, forgery and graft. The passage of the draft law comes after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) [official website] released an assessment [text, PDF] early this month concerning the country's anti-money laundering laws. The IMF criticized the existing system of laws for weakness in financial monitoring and outlined a series of recommendations including improvement of the countries suspicious transaction reporting requirements. The draft law goes next to Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah [official website] and then parliament for approval. The passage of this anti-corruption law comes after a crowd of nearly 2,000 protested corruption in oil-exports in the countries capital last week.
The move to change the law marks a departure from the country's previous response to protests and demonstrations in the region. In July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Kuwait to immediately release [JURIST report] two men being detained for posting messages on the Internet criticizing Middle East rulers. HRW reported that in June authorities detained and investigated Nasser Abul [Twitter feed, in Arabic] for threatening state security using Twitter and Lawrence al-Rashidi for posting a YouTube video criticizing Kuwait leader. His Tweets support the protestors demonstrations against Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa [official profile].