Saudi Arabia has urged other Arab states to become involved in efforts to combat corruption by joining its anti-corruption network, stating that it is in the interest of developing countries to do so.
At the 4th session of the Arab Forum for Promoting International Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption, hosted by the Saudi government in Riyadh, the Assistant Chairman of the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, (Nazaha) Nasser Abu Al-Khail, announced the Kingdom’s aim to unite Arab countries in combating corruption based on their common goals.
The Saudi government stressed to the attending representatives the need for their countries to join the Riyadh Initiative (GlobE Network), which would essentially link together anti-corruption law enforcement agencies throughout the region and world.
— Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (@nazaha_en) March 23, 2022
According to Mazin Al-Kahmous, the President of Nazaha who addressed the forum, Riyadh has been working in partnership with the UN and the Arab League since last year in an effort to develop a new mechanism for enforcing the Arab Convention against Corruption – the agreement signed twelve years ago by 21 Arab states to combat the crime throughout the region.
Al-Kahmous echoed the call for other anti-corruption agencies to join the GlobE Network and to work together with Saudi Arabia, reiterating that it would contribute to creating a methodology to further develop a new international index to tackle corruption.
Saudi Arabia has, for years, been working to combat corruption within its borders, whether in government sectors or the private sector, and those efforts were particularly driven by the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, since 2015.
At least thousands of people have been arrested, detained, dismissed from their jobs, or charged over their alleged involvement in corruption activities. There are frequent periods every few months where hundreds are rounded up or investigated by Nazaha, the most recent case being earlier this month when 143 people across six government ministries were detained over corruption claims.
Although the crackdown on corruption has been hailed by many as a much-needed effort, it has also been subject to criticism over concerns that it is used as an excuse to launch a campaign of arrests against potential opposition to the Crown Prince and his reforms. Even senior officials and Saudi royal family members have not been safe from the anti-corruption campaign.
Details of how a joint network of anti-corruption agencies in the Arab world would work together or enforce their activities have not been expanded on, but it may provide Riyadh with more capabilities and access to confidential data across the region.
The call was hailed by some at the forum, however, with the Deputy Head of the International Corruption Unit within UK’s Crime Agency, David Liebscher, saying that the GlobE Network solves issues such as slow response times by governments, the overlap of agencies and the investigation and tracking of stolen assets and public funds. He also said it could address the growing issue of digital currencies.