RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority has initiated seven criminal cases and issued judicial rulings on seven existing cases, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.
The new cases involve dozens of government, ministerial and municipal employees, members of university faculties, and citizens and residents. They face a variety of corruption charges, including exploitation, bribery, fraud, nepotism and accepting millions of riyals in cash payments, gifts or travel.
In one case, a former appeal judge was arrested over allegations he received a luxury vehicle in exchange for issuing an irregular ruling and revoking three other rulings, resulting in the release of the accused.
Another investigation, carried out in cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank, resulted in the arrest of a bank employee who allegedly received SR129,800 ($35,000) from citizens in exchange for filing funding requests using incorrect documents.
— Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (@nazaha_en) January 18, 2021
In a third case a woman was arrested for trying to bribe staff at a hospital to supply dozens of growth hormone injections that are not for sale to the public. The investigation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, led to the arrest of several other people involved in plots to obtain medical supplies that are not on general sale.
Regarding the judicial rulings, the authority said a number of individuals had been convicted and sentenced. They include a Ministry of Defense employee and a retired officer who were sentenced to five years and three years in prison, respectively, for embezzling public funds. They were also fined and ordered to repay the money to the state treasury.
Several employees from the Ministry of Housing were found guilty of bribery and money laundering and handed prison terms ranging from two to 10 years. The money and real estate they accumulated from their crimes were confiscated.
A number of employees at the ministries of interior, health, and municipal and rural affairs were convicted of administrative misuse, bribery, and abuse of public office. They were sentenced to between one and 15 years in prison and forced to pay maximum fines.
“Rulings were also issued against a number of state employees in a number of government sectors who have been proven to have side businesses while at work, in violation of the regulations that prohibit this,” the authority said.
It added that efforts will continue “to pursue anyone who exploits public office to achieve personal gain or harm the public interest, in any way possible.
It said it will continue to investigate historical cases that come to light, even if the accused no longer works for the organization involved, adding: “Accountability extends far beyond the individual’s retirement, as the crimes of financial and administrative corruption have no statute of limitations and the law rules against violators with zero tolerance.”
The authority said it appreciates the efforts of government entities to crack down on financial and administrative corruption, and develop policies and procedures that target such crimes. It commended them and the media for their cooperation and efforts to fight corruption and promote integrity and transparency. It also praised citizens and residents for reporting incidents and practices involving financial or administrative corruption that could undermine the government.