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Kuwait financier Hazem al-Braikan found dead in likely suicide
Source: BI-ME and agencies , Author: BI-ME staff
Posted: Sun July 26, 2009 11:28 pm

KUWAIT. A Kuwaiti financier facing a fraud suit by US authorities was found dead on Sunday in an apparent suicide, a security official at the Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission sued al-Braikan along with Al-Raya Investment, United Gulf Bank and Kipco Asset Management for allegedly placing “highly profitable and suspicious” trades before newspaper and Internet reports claiming investors planned to buy Textron and Harman International Industries.

Al-Braikan was found dead Sunday from a gun-shot wound, said the official, who declined to be identified because the investigation is continuing.

The Kuwait-based financier and firms reaped more than US$5 million from the transactions, the SEC said in the lawsuit targeting the traders on 23 July.

Braikan was the chief executive of Al Raya Investment, which is 10% owned by Citigroup, 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.

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 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."

The SEC said it persuaded a federal court judge in Manhattan to freeze the defendants’ assets while it investigates. The SEC hasn’t yet accused anyone of orchestrating the false reports.

The Textron and Harman trades at issue in the SEC lawsuit were made by Kipco “under specific instructions of its client,” Ogilvy Public Relations said in an e-mailed statement on the company’s behalf on 24 July. It didn’t identify the client. Earlier today, United Gulf Bank denied it profited from the transactions saying it placed the positions on a client’s behalf.

Reached by Reuters on 25 July, the day before his death, Braikan declined to comment on the case.

"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 U.S. attorney to defend him, declaring: "I would like to confirm on the soundness of my legal situation."

 

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