Kuwaiti beauty ecommerce platform Boutiqaat acquitted in money laundering case

Boutiqaat, the leading Kuwaiti beauty ecommerce platform has been acquitted in the money laundering case, it announced today. The case was dismissed by public prosecution after finding no evidence of money laundering or illicit activity. Boutiqaat had been under investigation for money laundering since July last year. Its local bank accounts also remained frozen for about eight months on orders of the Kuwaiti public prosecutor as the local authorities were investigating the company. They were unfrozen in March earlier this year. Boutiqaat always denied wrongdoing and offered to help the local 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 (AGPP) 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,” it 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,” added the statement.

Founded in 2015 by Abdulwahab Alessa, Boutiqaat sells over 40,000 beauty and fashion products from hundreds of international brands, using influencers. 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 $1 billion when the Kuwaiti authorities started an investigation into its finances.

The statement by Boutiqaat also said that its systems and physical documents were verified by the local authorities for accuracy, “In addition, they conducted several physical audits to ensure our inventory’s 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 of whom lost their job. He also said that the company lost 90 percent of its revenues and landed in problems with banks and other institutions because of their inability to clear the dues.

In the video, company’s founder explained that they had to suspend contracts with many of their merchants due to this. He criticized the local authorities saying that the entire episode is an indicator of their backwardness. Abdulwahab also questioned if the investigation into Boutiqaat had something to do with his decision to stand for the local election.

Boutiqaat in its statement said that moving forward their focus will remain on providing an exceptional experience to its customers.

Hat tip: Racha Ghamlouch

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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