Saudi authorities arrest 22, seize SR600 million in KSA’s ‘largest case of corruption’

The headquarters of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) in Riyadh.
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Updated 17 October 2020

Saudi authorities arrest 22, seize SR600 million in KSA’s ‘largest case of corruption’

  • Nazaha sends a clear message to anyone considering ‘embarking on such endeavors’

JEDDAH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested 22 people after seizing more than SR600 million ($160 million) in what has been described as “the largest case of corruption in the Kingdom.”

Crime investigators from the Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) apprehended 13 government employees from the municipality of Riyadh region, four businessmen, and five expats working for contracting companies over serious fraud allegations.
During searches of residences of the accused, officials found more than SR193 million in cash stashed away in make-shift ceilings, a service room in a mosque, a water tank, and an underground safe.
Also uncovered was an inventory of real estate purchases made by the arrested people using illegal funds, totaling almost SR142 million.
In addition, Nazaha seized almost SR150 million from the arrestees’ bank accounts, and following further investigation one of the accused was found to have used his position to disburse more than SR110 million through the Ministry of Finance’s Etimad unified digital services platform for commercial entities.
Other corrupt dealings were linked to SR2.5 million worth of grocery prepaid cards, nearly SR150,000 of fuel prepaid cards, and more than SR4.1 million in foreign currencies.
The 22 arrests were among 889 cases of corruption and discipline matters recently handled by Nazaha.

HIGHLIGHTS

• During searches of residences of the accused, officials found more than SR193 million in cash stashed away in make-shift ceilings, a service room in a mosque, a water tank, and an underground safe.

• Also uncovered was an inventory of real estate purchases made by the arrested people using illegal funds, totaling almost SR142 million.

Legal consultant, Dimah Al-Sharif, told Arab News that the case stood out due to the involvement of public officers who had abused their positions of power for financial gain. “This type of case negatively affects the development of the state and its economy,” she said.
Ahmed Al-Hussein, Nazaha’s spokesman in Riyadh, told Al-Ekhbariya TV channel that in addition to judicial findings, the questioned parties had confessed to their crimes. “In previous cases, we’ve had many in question who were already retired, but they were still tried and did not escape justice,” he said.
Abdulmajeed Al-Mousa, a legal consultant in Riyadh, also spoke to the station about the case, and said: “For some time now, we’ve seen Nazaha announce arrests like these, which can only establish that the authorities have been relentless in stopping cases of corruption.
“The work done by Nazaha sends a clear message to anyone considering embarking on such endeavors. At the same time, these efforts protect state funds.”
Al-Mousa pointed out that Nazaha operates a toll-free number for people to report any suspected incidents of corruption and it could also be contacted via social media. Callers can provide information with complete anonymity and even recipients of bribes had been shown leniency by the authorities when coming forward to expose financial crime.
Riyadh lawyer, Faisal Al-Tayie, told Al-Ekhbariya: “It gives me pride to see such actions taken toward corruption, and the level of transparency carried out in the statement released by Nazaha is unprecedented and detailed, and it inspires a lot of trust.”
He said the authorities had shown that it did not matter how high-profile a person was, no one was above the law.


Bander Asiri, Saudi Shoura Council member

Updated 16 min 22 sec ago

Bander Asiri, Saudi Shoura Council member

Bander Asiri has been appointed for a second four-year term as Shoura Council member by a royal decree issued last week.

The decree, issued by King Salman, appointed 150 members to the council for a period of four years and it will be headed by Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh. 

During his career in public office, Asiri worked as the acting president of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media from July 2015 to November 2017. He was also the chairman of the board at the Arab Satellite Communications Organization during the same period.

Asiri was the chairman of the board of the Saudi Media Measurement Co. from September 2016 to November 2017, a board member of Jeddah Development and Urban Regeneration Co. from March 2017 to November 2017, and the General Entertainment Authority from November 2016 to November 2017.

Prior to that, Asiri held several senior positions in the private sector including director general of Al-Khaleejiah Advertising and Public Relations Co. from September 2007 to September 2011, and the human resources development manager at Almarai Co. from July 2003 to March 2006.

He also founded several companies in the digital and marketing market. Asiri graduated from his studies in English at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and obtained his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Leicester, UK.

He believes that the legislative role that the Shoura Council undertakes creates the required policy framework for achieving Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Asiri also believes that the efficiency and effectiveness that the Shoura Council operates under makes it a leader compared to other G20 legislative bodies. This can be seen in the number of laws and policies issued by the council annually.