Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussein speaks in Kuwait City on March 25, 2013
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussein speaks in Kuwait City on March 25, 2013. The Kuwaiti ruler on Monday accepted the resignation of Hussein who quit apparently to avoid being questioned in parliament over a $2.2-billion penalty payment to US Dow Chemical. © Yasser al-Zayyat - AFP/File
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Hani Hussein speaks in Kuwait City on March 25, 2013
AFP
Last updated: May 27, 2013

Kuwaiti oil minister quits ahead of parliament grilling

The Kuwaiti ruler on Monday accepted the resignation of Oil Minister Hani Hussein who quit apparently to avoid being questioned in parliament over a $2.2-billion penalty payment to US Dow Chemical.

"A decree was issued by the emir accepting the resignation of the oil minister," State Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Sabah, told the official KUNA news agency.

A second decree was issued appointing Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali as acting oil minister, he added.

Hussein's resignation comes just a day before parliament had been due to quiz him over the penalty payment to Dow and a number of other alleged irregularities in the oil ministry.

The meeting will no longer be held but some MPs have vowed that the Dow penalty issue will not be closed and demanded legal action against the minister.

"The criminal, civil and administrative responsibilities will remain against the minister and all the officials who took part in the payment of the $2.2 billion penalty to Dow Chemical," MP Yacoub al-Sane, one of three lawmakers who filed to grill the minister, said in a statement on Monday.

The exit of the minister also comes one week after he had undertaken the biggest shake-up ever of the oil sector which contributes around 95 percent of Kuwait's public revenues.

He changed a number of leading executives at national oil company Kuwait Petroleum Corp. and the chiefs of all eight KPC subsidiaries, including Kuwait Oil Co., responsible for oil and gas exploration and production and national refiner Kuwait National Petroleum Co.

Hussein, a veteran oil executive and the former KPC chief, has been oil minister for the past 15 months only and was regularly accused by MPs of alleged violations.

Earlier on Monday, Al-Qabas newspaper quoted Hussein as saying he hopes "the new oil minister will provide the political cover for the massive change" introduced to the oil sector last week.

"I am comfortable by all standards, I have performed my duties... I hope the oil sector will be relieved of political pressures," he told the newspaper.

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