KIO 'paid dollars 300m to foreign authorities'

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The Independent Online
THE KUWAIT Investment Office paid dollars 300m ( pounds 200m) to 'political authorities and institutions' in Spain and elsewhere in connection with the Gulf war, the Spanish paper El Pais reported at the weekend. It did not specify the other countries involved but said the biggest single payment - to a Swiss bank account with its ultimate destination unknown - was dollars 80m.

Quoting from a confidential document attributed to a former senior official of Grupo Torras, the KIO's Spanish holding company, the paper said the money had been paid out of Torras funds and mostly through Bankers Trust in Geneva. It said the document had been written at the end of 1992 for the Kuwaiti prosecutor's office.

The aim of the payments, although they went on into 1992, had principally been to ensure the liberation of Kuwait, the paper quoted the document as saying.

Torras suspended payments in December 1992, declaring losses of more than 197bn pesetas (nearly pounds 1bn.) The KIO, based in London, has filed a suit in the UK against the former managers of its Spanish operation for alleged mismanagement.

Financial sources in Spain said the leaking of the document, if genuine, may have been related to the battle between the KIO and the managers, among them the Catalan businessman Javier de la Rosa, formerly vice-chairman of Torras.