The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Kuwait has arrested Mohammad Shahid Islam, widely known as Kazi Papul – a Member of Parliament from Lakshmipur-2 constituency – on charges of human trafficking and money laundering.
Later on Sunday afternoon, he was sent to the public prosecution department of the country, Bangladesh Ambassador to Kuwait SM Abul Kalam told The Business Standard.
"After following rules, he has been taken into judicial custody," the envoy added.
Kazi Papul was arrested from his residence (a rented villa) in the Mushrif residential area in Kuwait, said Mukhai Ali, president of Bangladesh Business Association in Kuwait.
"I am trying to find out why he has been detained,"said SM Abul Kalam, when asked whether the embassy would provide the MP with any assistance.
The envoy is also not aware if any case has been filed against the lawmaker.
"No human trafficking takes place from Bangladesh to Kuwait. What happens is visa trading," he said.
When asked, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told the media that he had learnt about the arrest from the ambassador.
"I have also heard that he has been accused of human trafficking and money laundering. Kazi Papul is the CEO of a giant company in Kuwait and his chairman is trying to secure bail for him," he added.
Marking the incident shameful and saddening, the minister said the lawmaker was detained at such a time when the entire world is against human trafficking.
When asked if the Bangladesh government is trying to secure bail for him or take any steps, the minister said they are trying to learn the details.
However, Papul'swife Selina Islam, who is also a parliament member from a reserved seat, denied the matter and told The Business Standard, "A vested group is spreading a rumour."
"The media reports about the arrest of Kazi Shahid Islam Papul in Kuwait are not correct. He is not accused in any case there. The Kuwaiti government has summoned him to a government office or the CID to discuss his business as per their rules,"Selina added.
"I request the embassy not to confuse anyone without any clear information about the matter," she said.
On February 27, The Business Standard ran a report which said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has opened an enquiry into an allegation that Laxmipur-2 MP Mohammad Shahid Islam amassed Tk1,400 crore by trafficking people to Kuwait and siphoned off the money to different countries.
Recently, some media outlets in Kuwait ran reports saying that three Bangladeshis were operating a human trafficking racket in the Middle Eastern country. On February 12, a report of the Arab Times, an English daily, said one of the three was a "member of parliament in Bangladesh".
According to the report, which cited Arabic-language newspaper Al-Qabas, the trio "occupied sensitive positions" in three major companies that brought more than 20,000 Bangladeshi workers to Kuwait in exchange for an amount believed to be more than Tk1,391.6 crore