A Wharton Business School graduate and investment CEO who spent over 470 days behind bars in Kuwait despite posting a bond of over $35 million remains on tenterhooks as she awaits a September hearing that could finally determine her fate.
The case of Marsha Lazareva has drawn attention from civil libertarians around the world. Global investors have been following the case of Marsha Lazareva closely as a bellwether for the safety and security of investing in Kuwait, a country U.S. officials helped to rescue from Saddam Hussein’s invasion in the first Gulf War.
Lazareva ran KGL Investment Co., which had business dealings with Kuwait, as well as government contracts. Her defenders say she was falsely accused by a disgruntled employee, and by Kuwaiti business rivals who wanted to take over her government contracts.
Her plight has drawn the attention of former FBI director Louis Freeh, former U.K. first lady Cherie Blair, and Neil Bush, the son of the late U.S. President George H.W. Bush. The elder Bush ordered Operation Desert Storm to liberate the Kuwaiti homeland in 1991.
Lazareva was initially convicted of billing the Kuwaiti Port Authority for work not actually done. But in June, a Kuwait Court of Appeals quashed that verdict after it was determined her accuser had forged the documents that were used to convict her.
By then, however, Lazareva, had also been accused of attempting to embezzle half a billion dollars in proceeds from a Filipino real estate project.
That money was later determined to have been frozen in a Dubai bank, and has since been released and distributed to investors. The charges against her have yet to be dropped, however, and she faces upcoming hearings in Kuwait next month.
International pressure on Kuwait to drop the charges is growing. Newsmax has learned that four members of Congress — GOP Mississippi Sen. Roger F. Wicker, Ohio GOP Rep. Steve Chabot, Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, and Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania — have asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to launch a probe into her case under the Global Magnitsky Act.
The Magnitsky Act authorizes federal officials to target individuals found to be human-rights violators. Penalties can including a ban on travel to the United States, as well as freezing their assets.
The letter from members of Congress name six Kuwaiti officials for scrutiny, including the general manager of the Kuwait Port Authority and the Kuwaiti attorney general.
Kuwait also faces the prospect of scrutiny from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, following an appeal to that body by former First Lady Blair on Lazareva’s behalf. Russian officials have been urging her release as well.
Bush, the son of one president and the brother of another, tells Newsmax that Lazareva “remains hopeful that the Kuwait courts will confirm her innocence in these upcoming hearings, and allow her to bring her family back to the United States.”
He adds: “Marsha also wants to express her gratitude to all the American officials and supporters from around the world who have lent their voices to her cause,” he states in an email statement to Newsmax.
In June, a Kuwaiti court finally allowed Lazareva’s release from a Kuwaiti prison — after requiring an additional bail of $3.3 million. That brings the total bail posted in the case to an unheard of $35 million. The release came after she spent nearly a year-in-a-half in a Kuwaiti prison.
Sources close to Lazareva tell Newsmax she faces mounting challenges in her personal life. During her prolonged prison stay, her 4-year-old son was told that his mother was traveling the world on business.
Now that she is out of prison and the two have been reunited, however, the child is unable to begin kindergarten in the United States. That’s because his mother is unable to travel until her case in Kuwait is resolved.
Also, sources say Lazareva’s mother recently received a cancer diagnosis. She needs to return to the United States for further testing, but is very reluctant to do so without her daughter.
With her life in limbo, Lazareva's worries continue to mount.
Says Bush: “Marsha is concerned for the health and welfare of her mother, and worried that if her son is unable to start kindergarten in September he will fall behind his classmates.”
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