Shoura ‘no’ to Nazaha monitoring accounts

Updated 06 November 2015
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Shoura ‘no’ to Nazaha monitoring accounts

JEDDAH: The Shoura Council has rejected a recommendation for the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) to monitor the bank accounts of people suspected of corruption.

The proposal was for the anti-graft body to work through the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), the Kingdom’s central bank, according to a report in a local publication.
The proposal was submitted by Saud Al-Subaie, head of the Shoura’s security committee, with the support of Saud Al-Shammari, head of the committee on human rights and supervisory bodies.
Al-Shammari argued that the recommendation was sound and did not violate any current banking rules. He said that while SAMA oversees the banking system, banks regulate themselves.
He said that banks report suspicious financial activities anyway, without any requests from the country’s security agencies. This information is submitted to the interior and finance ministries. The Nazaha would be a supervisory body working through SAMA, he said.
Shoura member Sultan Al-Sultan endorsed the proposal, saying that the authorities should also monitor the accounts of land owners when they start implementing the new tax on unused land in the country.
Another member, Fahd Al-Enzi, expressed concerns about the proposal and said it would require several amendments to banking laws, and cannot just involve approving a recommendation. He said the proposal was too wide-ranging and would “affect the economy considerably.”
Member Sami Al-Zaidan said the phrase “those suspected” cannot be used in place of “those accused of corruption.” He said details of accounts should only be disclosed by an order of the courts, and should not rest with the Nazaha or any other body.
Mohammed Al-Naji, who opposed the proposal, said that this type of monitoring is already being done through the Saudi Financial Investigation Unit, which receives reports of suspicious transactions.
The recommendation would negate the confidentiality clause clients have with their banks. They would no longer trust their banks and may close their accounts, he said.
However, the Shoura did approve a proposal for the Nazaha to get copies of the final court rulings issued on corruption cases, and to seek ways to recover stolen public funds.
The Shoura called on the Nazaha to work with the Ministry of Education to raise awareness about ethical behavior.


Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

AD DIRIYAH: The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”