Kuwait is expected to make an announcement in the coming weeks about who will head its long-awaited first independent stock market regulator, the Capital Market Authority (CMA).

“I am pretty confident that they will make an announcement during Ramadan,” says Salah Al-Fulaij, chief executive of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), one of the largest Kuwaiti banks. “Now that most people are back from their summer holidays, it seems a good time.”

To date, 18 candidates have turned down the offer to head the new regulator. Analysts have claimed that the stringent conditions for the job, such as a five-year ban on all investments for both the head and his family members, have made the post hard to fill.

“I think there are conflicts of interest because nearly every Kuwaiti has got either direct or indirect investment in the market,” says al-Fulaij. “But on top of that it’s going to be a really tough job because there is a lot of insider trading and market manipulation to clean up.”

The CMA of the Gulf’s second-largest bourse will have the power to impose fines and prison sentences of up to five years for violators through a special tribunal, as well as overseeing initial public offerings (IPOs) and mergers and acquisitions.   

The appointment of the head should have taken place in May, according to the law approving the formation of the regulator, which was passed in February this year.