Female CEO Still Imprisoned in Kuwait for 463 Days on False Charges Despite Court Order for Her Release

PR Newswire
June 3, 2019
Executive’s conviction overturned and prosecution’s only witness found to have forged evidence.

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Crowell & Moring, LLP today announced that Marsha Lazareva and Saeed Dashti, prominent members of the international business community, remain in jail despite a June 2nd court order to release the two on 11 million Kuwaiti Dinars ($36 million USD) in bail – a sum that has previously been paid to the court by the defendants. 

The refusal by the Kuwait Attorney General’s office to follow the court order comes at a time of heightened international attention on the State of Kuwait, which is serving as President of the United Nations Security Council for the month of June. International counsel for Lazareva recently filed a petition of complaint with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, requesting an investigation into her unlawful detention and inhumane treatment.

The June 2nd court order follows several recent developments that have completely discredited the case against Lazareva and Dashti: 

  • On May 5, 2019, the Kuwait Court of Appeals nullified the original conviction of Lazareva and Dashti based on the judge violating a number of Kuwait laws.
  • In May 2019, an auditor from the State Audit Bureau (“SAB”) was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for forging documents used to convict Lazareva and Dashti. The auditor immediately fled Kuwait and is currently a fugitive from justice.
  • In March 2019, witnesses from the Kuwait Port Authority (“KPA”) Finance Department recanted their prior statements and confirmed that, rather than hiding payments to KGL Investment in a second or a “parallel” accounting system as alleged by the prosecution and SAB auditor, the KPA properly recorded all the payments to KGL Investment and that the KPA maintained only one accounting system. 
  • Also in March 2019, a civil commercial court in Kuwait found that KGL Investment, in fact, performed the advisory services that the Public Prosecutor charged were never performed, and that the KPA was obligated to pay KGL Investment for those services, which contradicts the criminal charges. 

A multinational team of high-profile officials and prominent individuals have been working to secure the freedom of Lazareva and Dashti.  Supporters of Ms. Lazareva include Neil Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush; Cherie Blair, a UK human rights attorney; Louie Freeh, the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Ed Royce, the former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; James Nicholson, the former Ambassador to the Vatican and former Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Pam Bondi, the former Attorney General for the State of Florida; Lord Alex Carlile, a Queen’s Counsel and former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation for the United Kingdom; Mr. Vladimir Platonov, President of Moscow Chambers of Commerce and Industry and former Chairman of Moscow City Duma; and Yeltzin Center and its co-founder Mrs. Tatyana Yumasheva (Yeltzina), daughter of the First Russian President Boris Yeltzin.

“We welcome the court order releasing Marsha and Saeed on bail and the other recent developments showing that the charges are unsubstantiated,” said Neil Bush. “Unfortunately, we continue to face unexplainable resistance and delay by a small number of people within the Kuwait government who wish to advance their own private agendas. While this is very troubling, we continue to look forward to Kuwait living up to its reputation for the rule of law and allowing Marsha and Saeed to be fully reunited with their families and get back to their lives.”

SOURCE Crowell & Moring LLP