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Saudi businessmen, ex-officials arrested in latest anti-graft sweep

Saudi Arabia has stepped up anti-corruption efforts since 2017 [Getty/ Archive]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2021

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The kingdom's anti-corruption watchdog said the arrests were made in connection to cases involving bribes and financial irregularities.
Several Saudi businessmen and former officials have been arrested in the kingdom's latest anti-graft sweep, authorities announced on Thursday.

The suspects were detained in connection with cases involving bribes and financial irregularities, the Saudi Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazah) said.

Among those arrested was a former ambassador and plenipotentiary minister, a Nazah source told Gulf News.

The official allegedly issued 203 visas in exchange for 3,000 riyal ($799.77), allowing him to amass a total of 609,000 ($162,353) riyal in one year, the kingdom's official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Another case involves a former ambassador and two foreign ministry employees accused of siphoning 9.2 million riyal ($2,452,624) from companies in exchange for awarding contracts and other favours.

A retired major general at the Presidency of State Security was also arrested in a separate case, alongside an ex-adviser at the Interior Ministry, a retired brigadier at the same ministry, two businessmen and two Arab residents for alleged involvement in dubious deals.

Saudi authorities under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have stepped up anti-graft efforts in recent years.

The campaign launched in 2017 caught international attention when hundreds of elite princes, ministers and businessmen detained at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel in the capital Riyadh.

Many were held there for weeks and most were subsequently released after agreeing to significant financial settlements. Authorities said they recovered more than 400 billion Saudi riyals ($107 billion).

The anti-graft sweep led by Prince Mohammed has been labelled by many critics as a shakedown and a power grab.

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