A Wharton Business School graduate and investment-firm CEO imprisoned in Kuwait for over a year — despite posting $36 million in bail — will finally be reunited with her 5-year-old son following a Kuwaiti judge’s ruling she will be set free while her appeal is being adjudicated.
Marsha Lazareva is an international business woman convicted of billing the Kuwait Port Authority for work that was not actually done.
For reasons Kuwaiti authorities never fully explained, however, she was provided no opportunity to present her defense at that trial.
In March, the Kuwaiti Court of Arbitration confirmed her KGL Investment Co. had in fact completed all work in accord with its contract.
Kuwait’s Court of Appeals nullified her original conviction in May due to improper judicial procedures.
The court ordered her to be set free, but hiked her bail to a staggering $60 million. Kuwait’s attorney general had refused to release her without that payment.
The case has drawn growing global scrutiny. Human-rights activist and international lawyer Cherie Blair, the U.K.’s former first lady, recently filed a petition on Lazareva’s behalf with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Blair’s UN appeal requests an investigation into the arbitrary nature of Lazareva’s prolonged detention.
Also taking a keen interest in her case: Neil Bush, the son of the late President George H.W. Bush, who sent U.S. soldiers into Kuwait in 1991 to rescue it from Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
A source close to Lazareva’s legal team told Newsmax on Wednesday evening a judge has now ordered her release from the prison cell that she has been sharing with six other women. Her health was reportedly declining.
That means Lazareva will be reunited with her 5-year-old son, who has been told his mother is on an extended business trip abroad.
Lazareva’s legal team maintains business rivals who coveted her company’s lucrative government contracts drummed up the charges.
The Kuwaiti bookkeepers who testified against her have since recanted their allegations.
Also, the documents that were presented to the court as evidence of a scam have been exposed as forgeries. A Kuwaiti court convicted the prosecution’s chief witness of forgery May 27. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
Lazareva has now spent over 470 days in prison, despite the fact her initial conviction was dismissed.
Her high-powered legal team has been shuttling between the U.K., the United States, and Kuwait in a bid to win her release.
Lazareva’s advocates and supporters include Louis Freeh, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; former Florida Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi; Ed Royce, former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Secretary of Veteran Affairs James Nicholson.