JEDDAH: A Saudi municipal director of quality management who, along with his brothers, accepted SR23 million ($6.13 million) in bribes was among the latest batch of corruption cases handled by authorities in the Kingdom.
The siblings who received the illegal payoffs helped to facilitate SR170 million worth of projects to a number of businessmen, according to the country’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha).
The case was among 158 recently dealt with by the authority. As well as making 226 arrests, Nazaha seized SR1.2 billion, which was returned to the state treasury, and uncovered the largest case of corruption to date in the Ministry of Defense.
It began investigating 48 parties — 19 employees within the Ministry of Defense, three government employees, 18 businessmen, and eight contracted employees.
Another case involved the arrest of a Ministry of Finance employee for accepting a SR100,000 bribe to overlook financial irregularities in a SR23 million project.
And the arrests also included a major general and three contracted employees with the Ministry of National Guard for accepting bribes amounting to more than SR8 million.
The authority pledged to maintain its clampdown on those abusing their positions in public office for personal gain, including retirees, because “crimes of financial and administrative corruption have no statute of limitations.”
Ahmed Al-Hussein, Nazaha’s spokesman in Riyadh, told Al-Ekhbariya TV that the Saudi leadership’s “zero tolerance” message was clear in that “any questioning into financial and administrative criminal acts and corruption applies to all, no matter the rank or social status.”
He said: “Crimes included forgery, bribery, money laundering, using company funds for personal gain, squandering public funds and embezzlement — all related to criminal misconduct in a public office.”
Ashraf Al-Siraj, lawyer and chairman of the National Committee for Prisoners, their Families and Ex-Convicts (Tarahum), told Arab News that Nazaha’s role was to monitor and investigate cases in which government employees were suspected of corruption and public work exploitation.
“These individuals are then investigated and if proven guilty are transferred to the designated court to carry out an appropriate sentence,” he said.
The Kingdom had got “its eyes set” on the corrupt and was focused on rooting out all forms of misconduct, Al-Siraj added.
“No one is above the law, and it will be upheld whether the individual is a police officer, a businessman, or someone in a position of power within any sector. Nazaha is working diligently, and with our leadership’s directions the country will become clean.”