Bahraini minister denies he was charged with money-laundering
Bahraini Minister of State Mansoor bin Rajab Friday denied that he had been charged with money laundering a day after a government official said an unnamed cabinet minister had been detained and charged, dpa reported.
His statement came shortly after he opened his home doors to receive weekly visitors from the public.
"I was contacted by the Criminal Investigation Directorate and they requested that I appear in front of them and I complied. I had to answer questions relating to me and some of my staff in the ministry," bin Rajab said during his weekly open house.
"They also requested that they search some of the offices".
If prosecuted, bin Rajab would be first minister accused of criminal wrongdoing in the Gulf island state since it gained independence from Britain in 1971.
Bin Rajab, some of whose aides' offices and homes had been raided by police, also denied that he appeared in front of the public prosecutor. The Ministry of Interior statement on Thursday suggested a minister had been detained.
Bin Rajab said that on Sunday, which marks the start of the week in the Gulf island, he and his aides will be back in their offices to continue to carry out their duties.
"No one is above the law, that is why we cooperated with the Ministry of Interior in its investigation, but what happened was no more than answering questions raised by the Ministry of Interior," he said.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Interior said that it detained and charged an unnamed "official" for money-laundering crimes, which sources said amounted to millions of US dollars.
Brigadier Rashid Bu Humood, the ministry's assistant undersecretary for legal affairs, said the suspicious activities of the official came to authorities'attention in early 2009 and they had been monitoring him and his aides ever since.
Sources close to the investigation also told the German Press Agency dpa that a number of Western European agencies were among the foreign security services that had cooperated with Bahrain to uncover the scheme.
In May 2008, bin Rajab, who was earlier a member of the appointed upper house of the National Assembly, was one of two ministers to be quizzed by parliament over financial, administrative and constitutional irregularities before they were cleared.
The 55-year-old continued to head the Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs for five months after questioning. He was then appointed as a minister of state in a limited cabinet reshuffle.