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Kuwaiti beauty e-commerce platform Boutiqaat acquitted in money laundering case

Written by MENAbytes Published on     2 mins read

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Boutiqaat’s bank accounts were frozen for eight months. The company said it lost 90% of revenue during the investigation.

Boutiqaat, the leading Kuwaiti beauty e-commerce platform, has been acquitted of money laundering, the company said in an announcement. The case was dismissed after public prosecution found no evidence of money laundering or illicit activity. Boutiqaat had been under investigation since July last year. Its local bank accounts were frozen for about eight months on orders of the Kuwaiti public prosecutor while local authorities were investigating the company. The accounts were unfrozen in March this year. Boutiqaat denied wrongdoing and offered to assist the authorities in their investigation.

“We are pleased to announce that the eight-month investigation into our business opera­tions by the Kuwait Attorney General of Public Prosecution has cleared the company from all the allegations. Following a review of over 3 million transactions, Boutiqaat was found to be compliant with all regulatory and financial policies,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Every transaction in Boutiqaat is documented, serialized, and fully traceable. The investigation reviewed all company records including audited financial statements since establishment, all of which have been previously audit­ed by one of the four leading accounting firms. It also examined all dealings with local and international suppliers, contracts with social media influencers, and import and export documents. Moreover, it reviewed all the company’s sales records, payment meth­ods, and associated bank accounts,” read the statement.

Founded in 2015 by Abdulwahab Alessa, Boutiqaat uses influencers to sell over 40,000 beauty and fashion products from hundreds of international brands. The online platform features boutiques (stores) of influencers where they list their favorite products, enabling their fans to purchase them. Boutiqaat manages the entire transaction, including fulfillment of the products, while sharing a cut of the profit it makes from these sales with the influencers. Kuwaiti authorities had also investigated some social media influencers around the same time for money laundering. The company was in talks to raise fresh funds at a valuation of up to USD 1 billion when the Kuwaiti authorities began the investigation into its finances.

The statement by Boutiqaat also said that its systems and physical documents were verified by the local authorities for accuracy.

Abdulwahab Alessa, the founder of Boutiqaat, did not hold back from criticism of the local authorities in a video (in Arabic) published on Monday. He highlighted that over 1,000 employees and their families were impacted because of the decision to freeze Boutiqaat’s funds. Many members of Boutiqaat’s staff lost their jobs. Alessa also said that the company lost 90% of its revenues and encountered problems with banks and other institutions because of their inability to clear the dues.

In the video, Alessa said Boutiqaat had to suspend contracts with many merchants. He criticized the local authorities, saying that the entire episode is an indicator of their backwardness. Alessa also questioned whether the investigation into Boutiqaat had something to do with his decision to stand for the local election.

In its statement, Boutiqaat said that the company’s focus will be to provide an exceptional experience to its customers, just like before.

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This article was first published by MENAbytes.

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