Saudi authorities announced yesterday the arrest of 226 people involved in 158 cases of corruption including money laundering, bribery and fraud within country’s Ministry of Defence totalling some $325 million.
Criminal investigations have been launched against those arrested, according to an official source at the authority. Cases also included employees of the Ministries of Finance, Health and Education
BBC Arabic reported the Saudi Press Agency saying that it has been proven that “a number of officers and civil servants working at the Ministry of Defence, together with others, have been involved in suspicious financial dealings, committing bribery crimes, exploiting office influence and fraud, squandering public money and laundering money, to achieve illicit financial gains amounting to 1,229,400,000 Saudi riyals,” around $325 million.
The commission has investigated 48 people, Saudi Press Agency added, and that the probe carried out by officials ended with 44 of them being charged. Work is said to be currently underway to recover the funds that were stolen from the state treasury.
Another case involved a retired National Guard officer who was charged with accepting bribes of 8.2 million riyals ($2.1 million) when he was in active duty.
Saudi Arabia’s Control and Anti-Corruption Authority said: “The authority will pursue anyone who exploits the public office to achieve personal gain or harm the public interest in any way possible. The crimes of financial and administrative corruption have no statute of limitations, and that it will apply what the law rules against the violators with zero tolerance.”
De-facto ruler of the kingdom, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, known popularly as MBS, came into office with a pledge to crackdown on corruption. Within months of assuming office in 2017 following what many saw as a soft-coup against former Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Nayef, MBS authorised the detention of hundreds of princes, ministers and businessmen in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton and demanded millions of dollars in payment in exchange for their freedom.