If Laxmipur-2 MP Mohammad Shahid Islam Papul is found to be a Kuwaiti citizen, his seat will be declared vacant, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said in the parliament.
"We are talking with the Kuwait government whether he [Papul] is a citizen of Kuwait or not…we'll look into it. If he's a citizen of Kuwait, then we will have to vacant his seat because law will take its own course," Hasina said.
She said this while taking part in an unscheduled debate initiated by BNP lawmaker Hanunur Rashid. He raised question of citizenship of Papul, who was arrested by Kuwait CID on June 6 and sent to jail after interrogation.
Papul, managing director and chief executive officer of Marafie Kuwaitia Group, is accused of human trafficking, money laundering and bribing.
During the quizzing by Kuwait's Public Prosecution, he confessed bribing Kuwaiti officials millions of dollars for getting job contracts and job demands for recruiting foreign workers, mostly Bangladeshis.
Workers alleged they had to pay Tk 7- 9 lakh each for jobs in Kuwait but were paid lower than that was contracted for and even left jobless. Some Kuwaiti officials have also been detained in connection with the case.
In her brief speech at the parliament, Hasina informed the House that the government also launched investigation against Papul in the country.
The premier mentioned that Papul in the last parliamentary election in 2018 had sought nomination from Awami League, but she did not give him nomination for Laxmipur-2 constituency.
"We had left the seat to Jatiya Party. But Jatiya Party's Noman [Mohammad Noman] didn't participate in the election and that man [Papul] won in the national polls as an independent MP," Sheikh Hasina said.
She also said Papul somehow made his wife MP from a seat reserved for women. "But we didn't do that."
Jatiya Party has recently expelled Mohammad Noman, a former MP of Laxmipur-2, allegedly for remaining inactive in the party as he supported Papul of his constituency in the 2018 election in exchange of a huge amount of money.
Hanunur Rashid cited newspapers quoting Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen that Kuwaiti authorities arrested Papul as a "local resident" of Kuwait as he was on a visit there without using diplomatic or official passport of Bangladesh.
He said according to the Article 66 of the Constitution, if anyone accepts citizenship of any foreign country or express loyalty to any foreign nation, he won't be able to participate in the national election.
Meanwhile, Arab Times on Tuesday reported that Kuwait's Central Agency for Public Tenders canceled the extension of the contract for cleaning services at Kuwait International Airport and its facilities, as the contract was concluded with the company of the Bangladeshi MP accused of money laundering and visa trading.
Quoting sources, Arab Times reports the Central agency for Public Tenders explained that the decision to cancel the extension of the contract with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has been taken due to the suspension of the company's file in the Public Authority for Manpower based on criminal investigations and charges against one of the owners of the company.
In the same context, sources confirmed that one of four companies owned by Papul has many cleaning contracts with government agencies that are still valid.
Sources stressed the need to quickly address the problems related to contracts of the Bangladeshi MP before they exacerbate, given that the companies' accounts were seized by the Public Prosecution and it is not possible to liquidate them, it said.
They said the failure to pay the salaries of ordinary cleaning workers might prompt them to go on strike and this could harm the work of government agencies, the newspaper reported.