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Fugitive ex-Saudi official 'embezzled $11 billion in state funds': report

Saad al-Jabri reportedly holds documents relating to Saudi Arabia's rulers and ex-crown prince [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 July, 2020

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Saudi Arabia has arrested the children and brother of Saad al-Jabri in an attempt to force his return.
A fugitive former Saudi official and a group of men who worked under him at Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry embezzled $11 billion in state funds, according to a report.

Saad al-Jabri, who is currently exiled in Canada, headed a Saudi Interior Ministry fund that focussed on counter-terrorism, according to US intelligence sources who spoke to The Wall Street Journal.

Al-Jabri reportedly used billions of dollars in state funds over a period of 17 years to pay bonuses to himself, family members and acquaintances, the report said, citing Saudi documents and interviews with confidants of the former official.

The WSJ report added that corporate filings showed that funds from the special Interior Ministry unit were funnelled through a company called Technology Control Co - a firm funded by the ministry and owned at times by Al Jabri's brother, nephew and two close associates.

On one occasion, Saudi investigators reportedly found that the ministry had paid Technology Control Co $11,000 per unit for 2,000 secure landline and mobile phones. The equipment, which was later discarded due to poor quality, cost around $500 to produce.

Saudi officials say Al-Jabri is wanted as part of an anti-corruption drive spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has netted senior Saudi officials, businessmen and royal family members accused of corruption.

Critics say Prince Mohammed bin Salman is using the drive to tighten his grip on the kingdom and corner political rivals.

In attempting to force al-Jabri home, Saudi Arabia has arrested the former official's two adult children and brother.

"Saudi authorities are sinking to new lows in going after the families of former officials out of favor with the current leadership," Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East director, Michael Page, said earlier this year.

"How can anyone describe the Saudi leadership as reformist while it's arbitrarily detaining the children of former officials?" he added.

According to sources cited by Reuters, the Saudi crown prince believes al-Jabri is in possession of documents which could be used against rivals to the Saudi throne. It is also thought that the documents could compromise Prince Mohammed and his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The documents reportedly contain information about the foreign assets of Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief, Mohammed bin Nayef.

Bin Nayef served as crown prince until he was removed from the post in June 2017 and replaced by Prince Mohammed.
The former heir to the Saudi throne was arrested in March this year, with reports alleging that the prince will soon be tried for treason.

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