Jul 26 2009
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Al Raya's Braikan in apparent suicide; Kuwaiti in US fraud probe dead
Speaking to the Arab Times, security sources revealed Al-Braikan's brother called the Ministry of Interior at 12:16 pm to report the incident and representatives from the ministry rushed to the crime scene. Acting Ministry Undersecretary Lieutenant General Ghazi Al-Omar led other high-ranking officials who went to the location, including Assistant Undersecretary for Public Security Affairs Major General Thabet Al-Muhanna, Capital Governorate Security Manager Brigadier General Ibrahim Al-Sayed Hashim, Manager of Security Operations at the Capital Governorate Brigadier Ibrahim Al-Sharrah, and Manager of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) at the Capital Brigadier Monsour Al-Hajeri.
Security officers cordoned off the area and transferred Al-Braikan's body from the back door of the house to Forensics as a large crowd of journalists was gathered in front. The media was not allowed to take pictures.
Sources said the victim's parents are currently out of the country and he was living alone with the housemaid, who told police that she didn't hear gun shots at the time of his death. She said the victim prayed early in the morning and then ate a sandwich. One of his relatives disclosed Al-Braikan has been suffering serious psychological problems over the last three days due to the case filed against him.
Police are now waiting for a report from Forensics to determine whether he fired the gun or somebody shot him from outside and put the gun in his hands. The authorities also denied rumors about four or two bullets fired as there was only one bullet found in his head, indicating the gun was licensed two months ago. Security sources revealed the victim had a very simple room with a laptop and some documents related to his work.
His neighbors told the Arab Times that he has been living in the house since 1986 and he was a very-well behaved man who did not miss any prayers. They expressed their sorrow over his death. Sources added the victim's immediate family was deliberately not informed about his death due to his mother's illness.
"Suicide is unlikely," said Al-Braikan's friend who commented on online newspaper Al-Aan which reported the incident. The blogger, who remained anonymous, claimed to be Al-Braikan's close friend, indicating the deceased "was religious and rational and did not miss a prayer. He was sure of his innocence and had hired an American lawyer to follow up his case. Suicide is out of the question."
The US Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday filed a case against Al-Braikan and entities linked to him as they allegedly earned millions from deceptive takeover reports that sent shares of US firms, Harman International Industries and Textron, soaring.
Al-Braikan denied such accusations and affirmed on Saturday that Al-Raya has committed no violations and he had named a US attorney for the case.
A security source told Reuters that Al-Braikan appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the side of the head, while a policeman standing outside Braikan's house said the well-connected financier, 37, had shot himself.
Braikan was the chief executive of Al Raya Investment, which is 10 percent owned by Citigroup Inc, and had been at the centre of a financial scandal that erupted last week.
"It's very sad news. This crisis has seen a lot of people in the Gulf and across the world fall from grace, and each person is different in terms of their ability to handle pressure," said Mohammed Yasin, chief executive of Dubai-based investment bank Shuaa Securities.
An employee at Al Raya said Braikan, who was single, had not come to work on Sunday, the start of the working week in the Gulf region.
"We are shocked. Everybody is shocked," the employee said by telephone. "We called his brother, and he confirmed the news.
"He was here at the office yesterday until 7 or 8 at night. I don't know why he decided to end it."
Braikan's death comes on the heels of another financial scandal that has rocked the Gulf region, involving two Saudi conglomerates.
Regulators and bankers are grappling with the fallout from debt restructuring and fraud allegations at privately held Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.
Algosaibi has sued the head of Saad Group in a New York court for fraud in a case involving allegations of $10 billion in loan irregularities.
Investors have been left largely in the dark on the case, the biggest blow to hit the Middle East since the financial crisis.
The SEC's lawsuit, which also names a Bahrain bank and a state-linked Kuwaiti firm, will intensify focus on concerns about transparency and weak regulation in the Gulf region.
"This incident will shed the light on the need for tougher legislation for bourse trading and leaked media reports in Kuwait," said a Kuwait-based trader.
"I have nothing to say. It is in the hands of the lawyers now."
Hours later, he issued a statement saying he had named a US attorney to defend him, declaring: "I would like to confirm on the soundness of my legal situation."
In papers filed in Manhattan federal court last week, the SEC said Braikan and entities linked to him earned more than $5 million from well-timed trades in the two US firms.
Other defendants include United Gulf Bank and KIPCO Asset Management Co (KAMCO) . Both are part of the Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO) group.
All the firms have denied the allegations.
KIPCO is affiliated with senior members of Kuwait's ruling al-Sabah family and is the biggest investment firm by assets in Kuwait.
KAMCO and United Gulf Bank said on Friday they made no gain from trading in the shares of Harman and Textron.
Shares in KIPCO slid 3.5 percent on the Kuwaiti bourse on Sunday, on the first trading day after the lawsuit was filed.
The SEC said it obtained an emergency court order freezing the trading profits in US accounts held by Braikan and the other firms.
An SEC official said an investigation began soon after learning about a takeover hoax last Monday, at the same time as the markets and media outlets.
Harman shares briefly soared after several media outlets reported that a private investment firm called Arabian Peninsula Group planned to buy it at almost double its market price. The incident was similar to a phony offer for Textron in April from a United Arab Emirates-Kuwait consortium. Harman was forced to issue a statement last Monday denying it had been approached by a mysterious Gulf investor known as the Arabian Peninsula Group following a number of media reports. The company's shares tumbled sharply once the hoax was revealed. In April, rumors and a report in a Kuwaiti newspaper that a consortium of Middle East companies was offering to buy Textron Inc. sent shares of the Providence, Rhode Island company soaring more than 50 percent in a single day. No deal for the manufacturer of Bell helicopters, Cessna jets and turf-maintenance equipment emerged, and shares plunged a few days later.
The SEC said Al-Braikan and the others "amassed positions in the one or both of the securities of the companies shortly before the bogus offers were publicized." They then sold their securities at "prices inflated by the false information to reap their illicit profits."
Meanwhile, Kuwait's Interior Ministry said it was investigating the death of Al-Braikan. A ministry statement said it would not release any information or statement on the cause of Al-Braikan's death until investigators gather all the necessary information and complete the investigation. The Directorate General of Criminal Evidence and other specialized bodies are examining the scene of the incident, said the statement.
By Dahlia Kholaif & Rena Sadeghi
© Arab Times 2009
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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