Kuwait financier facing U.S. fraud suit found dead

Other News Materials 26 July 2009 23:48 (UTC +04:00)

A brash Kuwaiti financier facing a fraud suit by U.S. authorities was found dead Sunday in an apparent suicide that sent shockwaves through the Gulf Arab financial sector.

A security source told Reuters that Hazem 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 center 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.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against Braikan and two other finance firms last week, accusing them of having improperly earned millions of dollars from trades in two U.S. firms, Harman International Industries Inc and Textron Inc.

A policeman at Braikan's two-storey villa in the Kuwait City neighborhood of al-Rawda told Reuters that Braikan's brother had called for help.

An employee at Al Raya said Braikan, who was single, had not come to work 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."