Saudi begins clampdown on corrupt officials

by Akeem Alao

Following the alarming rate of bribery and exploitation by public office holders in Saudi Arabia, government officials, including military and security personnel, have been detained by Saudi authorities.

This was disclosed on Sunday March 15, 2020 by Saudi’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha).

The commission stated that investigators would bring charges against those currently held in custody.

While the authorities attempted to sanitize the region, security forces have arrested scores of princes and members of the kingdom’s political and business elite.

The royal court said last year it was winding down that campaign after 15 months, but the authorities later said they would start going after graft by ordinary government employees.

Nazaha tweeted on Sunday that, “Not less than 298 people have been arrested and will be indicted on crimes such as bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power involving a total of 379 million riyals ($101m).”

Among those implicated are eight defence ministry officers suspected of bribery and money laundering regarding government contracts during the years 2005-2015; and 29 interior ministry officials in the Eastern Province, including three colonels, a major general and a brigadier general.

Two judges were also detained for receiving bribes, along with nine officials accused of corruption at Riyadh’s Almaarefa University, following a partial building collapse which caused deaths and injuries, Nazaha said.

The agency provided no names and few other details about the cases.

Among those held in the sweeping clampdown are two of the most prominent royal family members: Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, a younger brother of the king, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king’s nephew and former crown prince.

While Saudi authorities have not officially commented on the arrests, reports triggered rumours about a possible coup attempt or sudden deterioration in the health of 84-year-old King Salman.

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