JEDDAH: Saudi lawyers on Tuesday lauded King Salman’s sacking of two high-ranking officials as part of an anti-corruption drive that proved “no one was above the law.”
The monarch on Monday issued a royal decree ordering the dismissal of Saudi Commander of the Joint Forces in Yemen Lt. Gen. Fahad bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz and Jouf Deputy Gov. Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahad bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the launch of a corruption probe.
He also placed under investigation a number of officers, civil officials, and others based on a referral from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) to look into what the decree described as “suspicious financial dealings monitored at the Ministry of Defense.”
According to the king’s decree, Nazaha “disclosed financial corruption” at the ministry linked to the military chief and the prince.
Saudi lawyer Abdullah Al-Khatib told Arab News that Nazaha would complete legal procedures against the accused.
“One of the authority’s main objectives is to provide direct communication channels with the public to receive their reports related to corrupt behaviors, verify their validity and take the necessary actions in this regard, following the approach of our wise leadership to achieve justice in society and eliminate corruption in all its forms,” he said.
Legal consultant, Majed Garoub, said: “This action is a clearer confirmation to a recent decision where governors of the Red Sea coastal cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh, the head of border security, and other local commanders, as well as officials from the Ministry of Interior have been sacked over corruption at tourism projects; most of them were referred to by their names and job titles.
“Everyone should know that only attempting to be involved in a corrupt action is a crime by itself and is punishable by law. This is to confirm that whoever plans, plots, conceals, and initiates the crime, his punishment is no less than those who commit the full crime of financial corruption, including bribery, mediation, and abuse of influence,” he added.
Garoub pointed out that the king’s decree had targeted high-ranking officials and members of the Saudi royal family, sending out a clear message that no one in the Kingdom was above the law.
“The interest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its wealth is for the public interest, the country and the citizens, and not for the corrupt to benefit from them unlawfully.
“This is to uproot corruption from Saudi thought, culture, and conscience, and to remind everyone who thinks that they can safely continue in their corruption that social status and governmental position can no longer prevail over the law,” he said.
Another lawyer, Njood Al-Qassim, noted that corruption covered crimes including bribery and trading in influence, abuse of power, illicit enrichment, manipulation, embezzlement, squandering or abuse of public money, money laundering, accounting and commercial fraud, forgery, and currency counterfeiting.
“Therefore, the national integrity and anti-corruption strategy has focused on verifying and investigating all those found guilty and those related to these violations, completing the statutory procedures, taking the necessary measures in this regard, and raising results to the higher responsible authorities.
“No one is above the law according to the policy and vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” she said.