Kuwait to investigate graft allegations in $1.1bn helicopter deal with France

Kuwait agreed to buy the Airbus Caracal military helicopters in August 2016

Kuwait’s government has launched an investigation into a $1.1bn helicopter deal with France amid allegations of corruption.

In a statement to state news agency KUNA on Wednesday, deputy prime minister and minister of state for cabinet affairs Anas Al-Saleh said the government had decided to refer the case to the Public Anti Corruption Authority on the request of Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah.

Kuwait agreed to buy the Airbus Caracal military helicopters for more than $1.1bn in August 2016 as part of a wider package of deals between the two countries worth EUR2.5bn ($2.96bn)

Read: Kuwait orders 30 Airbus Caracal helicopters worth over $1.1bn

“With regards to what was raised in a local daily today about the helicopter deal, it was decided to refer the same issue to the Court of Audit to conduct an audit on all statements and documents and procedures in the deal,” said Al-Saleh.

The findings are to be presented to the cabinet as soon as possible, according to the statement.

Opposition MP Mubarak Al-Hajraf raised the issue in parliament on Wednesday demanding an investigation.

His comments were based on a report by Arabic newspaper Al-Rai citing an article in France’s weekly Marianne magazine, which stated a middleman had demanded EUR60m ($71m) from Airbus in commission for the deal.

France was expected to begin the delivery of the first helicopters, designed to seat 28 troops in addition to crew, to the Kuwaiti army and national guard in early 2019.