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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.

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