Boutiqaat, the leading Kuwaiti beauty e-commerce platform has found itself in the middle of a money-laundering scandal involving social media influencers, sending shock waves across the country.
The Kuwaiti e-commerce platform is built around social media influencers. It enables them to set up virtual boutiques on Boutiqaat, where they can add their favorite products. Boutiqaat then takes care of the entire transaction.
Local media has reported that the social media influencers in question are suspected of using Boutiqaat’s platform to launder money. The public prosecutor of Kuwait has ordered the country’s central bank to freeze the bank accounts of Boutiqaat as well as all social media influencers who are suspected of laundering money. He has also placed travel bans on all individuals involved, including Abdulwahab Al Essa, the founder and CEO of Boutiqaat.
All bank accounts in Kuwait that belong to Boutiqaat and its founder have been frozen, MENAbytes has learned.
Boutiqaat’s investor Boubyan, which had poured USD 45 million into the e-commerce startup in January 2018, confirmed in a disclosure document that the public prosecutor has ordered the bank accounts of Boutiqaat to be frozen. The document also explained that the effect of the development on Boubyan’s financial position cannot be determined at this point.
The Kuwaiti startup hasn’t issued any statement on the matter, but the platform is still up and running. A source with knowledge of the matter told MENAbytes that sales volume on Boutiqaat has dropped by more than 90% since the news surfaced on social media.
The startup had recently hired Citigroup to raise fresh funds at a valuation of up to USD 1 billion.
MENAbytes has reached out to Boutiqaat to learn more and will update the story if the company responds.
This article first appeared in MENAbytes.