JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has uncovered corruption to the tune of $100 billion.
In a statement on Thursday, Attorney General Saud Al-Mojeb said: “The investigations of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Committee are proceeding quickly ... The potential scale of corrupt practices which have been uncovered is very large.”
Based on the investigations over the past three years, Al-Mojeb estimated that “at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.”
He said a total of 208 individuals have been called in for questioning so far. Of them, “seven have been released without charge.”
Al-Mojeb, who is also the member of the anti-corruption committee, said the evidence for “this wrongdoing is very strong and confirms the original suspicions which led the Saudi authorities to begin the investigation into these suspects in the first place.”
He said given the scale of the allegations, the Saudi authorities, under the direction of the royal order issued on Nov. 4, had a clear legal mandate to move to the next phase of “our investigations, and to take action to suspend personal bank accounts.”
“On Tuesday, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) agreed to my request to suspend the personal bank accounts of persons of interests in the investigation,” he said.
Al-Mojeb admitted that there has been a great deal of speculation around the world regarding the identities of the individuals concerned and the details of the charges against them.
“In order to ensure that the individuals continue to enjoy the full legal rights afforded to them under Saudi law, we will not be revealing any more personal details at this time,” he said.
“We ask that their privacy is respected while they continue to be subject to our judicial process.”
He reiterated that it was important to repeat, as all Saudi authorities have done over the past few days, that normal commercial activity in the Kingdom is not affected by these investigations.
“Only personal bank accounts have been suspended. Companies and banks are free to continue with transactions as usual,” he said.
Al-Mojeb said: “The Government of Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is working within a clear legal and institutional framework to maintain transparency and integrity in the market.”