Tags: Middle East | Trump Administration | marsha lazareva | kuwait | corruption | louis freeh

Kuwaitis Sentence CEO Marsha Lazareva to 15 Years

a blonde-haired marsha lazareva gestures with her right hand in front of her face as she speaks
International businesswoman Marsha Lazareva (Image provided by Marsha Lazareva)

By    |   Monday, 11 November 2019 03:22 PM

A Wharton Business School graduate and investment-firm CEO, who was imprisoned in Kuwait for over a year despite posting a $36 million bond, was convicted on two corruption-related counts and sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday.

Marsha Lazareva's defense team tells Newsmax they will appeal the conviction, while also working with the Trump administration and the United Nations to try to put pressure on Kuwait to obtain her release.

Lazareva is a Russian national who moved to the United States in 1997 and attended business school.

In May, Kuwait's Court of Appeals nullified a prior conviction against her, citing improper judicial procedures. After that conviction was tossed out, Lazareva was required to remain in Kuwait while awaiting further hearings.

The case has drawn high-level attention from the United States, the U.K., and Russia.

Among those who have worked on her behalf so far: Neil Bush, the son of the late U.S. President George H.W. Bush, and brother of President George W. Bush; Cherie Blair, a global human rights advocate and the former first lady of the U.K.; Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General; former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Secretary of Veteran Affairs James Nicholson; and Louis Freeh, the former FBI director, who traveled to Kuwait to present evidence on Lazareva's behalf.

Also, several current and former members of Congress from both political parties have warned Kuwait could be subject to sanctions for human-rights violations under the Magnitsky Act, including Ed Royce, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Lazareva's lawyers say business rivals who coveted her company's lucrative government contracts drummed up the charges. Kuwaiti bookkeepers who initially testified against her have recanted their allegations.

Also, the documents that were presented to the court as evidence of a scam have been exposed as forgeries. A Kuwaiti court convicted the prosecution's chief witness of forgery May 27, and he was sentenced to a term of six months in prison.

Lazareva had spent over 460 days and nights in prison before her release earlier this year, and her health is said to be on decline. Her 5-year-old son Yvan had been told she was on an extended business trip abroad.

Newsmax recently learned the boy's maternal grandmother suspended the cancer treatments she was undergoing in the United States, so she could return to Kuwait to take custody of the boy if his mother is returned to prison.

It was unknown as of Monday afternoon whether that had occurred.

Earlier this year, Blair spoke to Newsmax in an exclusive interview, and described Lazareva's case as part of "a dangerous trend of criminalizing people who are conducting legitimate business activities.”

She added, "Marsha has been a prominent businesswoman in the Middle East, an example of women's leadership in an area that has not so many examples of that."

Blair described extraordinary bond in the case as "extortion" and told Newsmax the case "boggles the mind."

International investors continue to keep a close eye on Lazareva's case, saying it could influence global business and investment there.

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Marsha Lazareva, a Wharton Business School graduate and investment-firm CEO, was convicted on two corruption-related counts and sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday.
marsha lazareva, kuwait, corruption, louis freeh
Monday, 11 November 2019 03:22 PM
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