Saudi defense ministry official arrested on bribery charges

Time: July 11, 2018

Saudi Arabia has arrested a defense ministry official on charges of receiving a 1 million riyal ($267,000) bribe and abusing his position, the SPA state news agency reported on Tuesday.

“The official sought to facilitate irregular procedures for the disbursement of financial dues to a company, taking advantage of his professional influence,” a statement quoted Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mujib as saying.

It added that the official admitted the crime of bribery and the involvement of two others in the same case, who were also arrested. No names were given.

Last November, authorities detained hundreds of top businessmen and royals in November and held them for months at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton Hotel in a sweeping anti-corruption investigation.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as defense minister, told a U.S. newspaper in February the purge was like chemotherapy of “the cancer of corruption”.

This article was first published in Reuters

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Changes in anti-bribery law gets the Shoura nod

Time: July 03, 2018 

RIYADH – The Shoura (Consultative) Council on Monday approved draft amendments in the Kingdom’s law to combat bribery. The amendments are aimed at protecting public utilities from corruption by all means, according to Yahya Al-Samaan, assistant president of the council.

The council session, chaired by its Deputy President Abdullah Al-Moatani, took the decision after reviewing the report prepared by the committee for security affairs. The draft amendments, read out by the committee Chairman Ata Al-Subaiti, also aimed to achieve sound procedures in combating and investigating bribery cases and putting suspects on trial, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

During the deliberations, Al-Samaan said, several members supported the proposed amendments, which included some statutory amendments and emphasized the significance of these changes in eliminating corruption. The draft law, consisting of 23 articles, is aimed at combating bribe so as to consolidate the concept of inviolability of job and protect it from violations by applying the most severe penalties, including material and moral punitive measures. This also targets protecting the interests of the state and the national economy by bringing the employee under the purview of the anti-bribery law with ensuring the criteria for honesty and transparency.

According to Al-Samaan, the law also seeks to emphasize the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. The convention was ratified by the Kingdom. Another objective of the amended law is to enhance the efficiency of administrative bodies and activating economic and social development programs.

The council also approved amendments in some articles of the draft Commercial Maritime Law after listening to a report presented by the committee of transport, communications and information technology. The Shoura session was held in the presence of Minister of the State and Member of the Cabinet for Shoura Affairs Muhammad Abu Saq.

Al-Samaan said the amendments, read out by the committee Chairman Saadun Al-Saadun, aimed at removing the discrepancy between the council and the government on some matters related to commercial maritime. In its recommendation, the committee had requested approval of some amendments to the draft regulations, which had resulted in a consensus between the Council and the government.

The draft law consists of 391 articles divided into ten sections.

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette

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Saudi Takes Part in UN Anti-Corruption Meeting, Mark 15th Anniversary of Convention Adoption

Time: May 23, 2018

Saudi Arabia, represented by a delegation from the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), will take part on Wednesday in a high-level meeting of the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) to mark 15 years since the adoption of the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

 

 

The meeting will be attended by UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Yuri Fedotov, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

The opening session will discuss the most notable developments and best practices in the application of the U.N. Convention against Corruption, which has been adopted by 184 countries, including Saudi Arabia. The meeting will conclude with a speech by Lajcak.

Dr. Khalid bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Muhaisen, president of Nazaha and head of the Saudi delegation, will stress the Kingdom’s anti-corruption efforts locally and internationally.

 

 

This article was first published in Albawaba

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Kingdom’s anti-corruption chief leads Saudi delegation at UN General Assembly

May 23, 2018

  • The meeting will be attended by UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Yuri Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia, represented by a delegation from the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), will take part on Wednesday in a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to mark 15 years since the adoption of the UN Convention against Corruption.

The meeting will be attended by UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Yuri Fedotov, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

The opening session will discuss the most notable developments and best practices in the application of the UN Convention against Corruption, which has been adopted by 184 countries, including Saudi Arabia. The meeting will conclude with a speech by Lajcak.

Dr. Khalid bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Muhaisen, president of Nazaha and head of the Saudi delegation, will stress the Kingdom’s anti-corruption efforts locally and internationally.

This article was first published in  Arab News

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Why the fight against corruption matters to every Saudi

Time: April 25, 2018

A wave of reforms aimed at combating corruption has focused attention on what corruption actually is, along with the legal mechanisms and strategies employed to eliminate it.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission, Nazaha, was established in 2011 by order of the late King Abdullah. His directive was explicit — that the powers of the commission cover all sectors and government agencies without exception, regardless of anyone’s name or position.
Nazaha defines corruption as any breach of the rules imposed by a statutory regulator, or the misuse of authority or the civil service for the purpose of personal gain or exploitation. Corruption takes many forms; it need not involve only financial gain, but also covers political, functional and moral benefits. Examples would be unlawful enrichment, misuse and waste of public money, commercial fraud, money laundering and using authority or power to make money.

Saudi Arabia can also benefit from international experience and best practice in the fight against corruption — which I prefer to think of as a battle to protect political and social stability and security

Dimah Talal Alsharif

Many members of the community know about the phenomenon of corruption and the campaign against it, without being fully aware of Nazaha’s objectives, and its legal strategy to achieve them. Greater awareness of the importance of this fundamental role would contribute to society’s involvement in the battle against corruption, and to people’s knowledge of the desired aims and the methods to be used.
The commission’s job is to investigate any breaches of rules and regulations that affect the public interest; to refer these offenses to the investigating authorities and follow up with the investigation process; and to take any necessary precautionary measures. The commission has the right to report directly to the king for any further action a case may require, which reflects the seriousness with which corruption is viewed at the highest level. It also aims to monitor the recovery of funds obtained by corrupt means.
Nazaha’s work mechanisms reflect the importance of each objective. It proposes regulations and policies required by the anti-corruption process, and provides judicial bodies with the necessary financial and human resources, expertise, training and modern scientific means to enable them to perform their tasks efficiently. It speeds up the process of resolving corruption cases and compensating those affected by them. It establishes mechanisms to protect public money, it clarifies the procedures used in particular in government procurement contracts, public institutions and joint stock companies, and it encourages the involvement of the public and the media in expressing opinions about these procedures. It also urges professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants to express an opinion about the applicable regulations, in addition to ensuring the free exchange of information about corruption between society and the media.
Public awareness plays a major role in the battle against corruption, so the commission expresses its policies and objectives in simple and clear language. Providing direct channels of communication with society also helps the commission to receive reports of corruption and to clarify the measures to be taken. Saudi Arabia can also benefit from international experience and best practice in the fight against corruption — which I prefer to think of as a battle to protect political and social stability and security.

 This article was first published Arab News

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Saudi Arabia begins investigating detainees who did not settle, newspaper reports

Time: April 08, 2018

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has begun investigations and opening arguments in the corruption cases of princes, top officials and businessmen who were detained late last year, an official told pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat on Sunday.
Authorities rounded up dozens of people in November on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s orders, with many confined and interrogated at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Most of them, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government. But 56 people who had not reached settlements remained in custody and could face trial, the government said late in January.
Saud Al-Hamad, deputy attorney general for investigations, told Al Sharq Al Awsat that whoever is charged will be referred to court for prosecution in cases related to money laundering or terrorism. He provided no other details about the suspects.
Hamad said some of those under investigation had failed to respect confidential agreements while others committed further, unspecified, offenses.
The anti-corruption campaign is part of Crown Prince Mohammed’s push to transform an oil-dependent economy long plagued by graft but now contending with lower global crude prices. But it remains shrouded in secrecy with few specific allegations or details of financial settlements revealed.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi crown prince says focus on “end not means” of reforms, hints at Israel cooperation

Time: 5 April 2018

Mohammed bin Salman was speaking to Time magazine for an April cover story

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said observers should focus on the “end, not the means” as he leads reform efforts that have seen top businessmen detained and new rights given to women.

The heir to the throne’s comments were made in an interview with US publication Time magazine for the cover of the April 16 issue as he reaches the final leg of a US tour that has spanned multiple cities and included meetings with President Trump and top executives.

Major agreements have been announced during the three-week visit and the crown prince has been hosted by the world’s richest men, while overseeing deals for cinemas, technology, military equipment and more.

 

During the interview, he repeated many of his previous comments regarding the hijacking of Islam after 1979 and the rise of fundamentalism in the kingdom and other countries.

“We believe the practice today in a few countries, among them Saudi Arabia, is not the practice of Islam,” he told Time.

“It’s the practice of people who have hijacked Islam after 1979.”

Bin Salman was also asked questions regarding his rise to power after replacing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as Crown Prince last June and launching a November corruption crackdown that saw hundreds of businessmen, royals and officials hand over billions of dollars in exchange for their release from detention.

The crown prince reportedly told the publication he had no plans to dilute the Saudi monarchy’s power and encouraged a focus on the results of his reforms, which have included the opening of the kingdom’s first cinemas in decades this month and a decision to allow women to drive, rather than the means of getting there.

 

“What we should focus on is the end, not the means,” he was quoted saying. “If the means are taking us to that end, that good end, and everyone agrees on it, it will be good.”

Bin Salman said these ends included freedom of speech, improved employment, economic growth, security and stability, according to the publication.

Another topic of discussion was the war in Yemen, where the kingdom has led a coalition of Arab states in support of forces loyal to the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since 2015.

The crown prince did not rule out sending troops into the country in contrast to a campaign that has so far mostly focussed on air strikes, but said he didn’t want the conflict across the border to impact everyday life in the kingdom, according to the publication.

“We want to be assured that whatever happens, the Saudi people shouldn’t feel it,” he said. “The economy shouldn’t be harmed or even feel it. So we are trying to be sure that we are far away from whatever escalation happens.”

In other comments, he denied that Saudi Arabia spread extremist ideology, suggesting instead it was “the biggest victim” of the practice.

He said the government under his leadership was intent on undoing lessons taught by extremists and had Islamic teachings on its side.

“If someone comes and says women cannot participate in sport. The Prophet, he raced with his wife. If someone comes and says women cannot do business, the wife of the Prophet, she was a businesswoman, and he used to work for her as Prophet. So the Prophet’s practice is on our side.”

The crown prince also did not rule out closer cooperation with Israel, following recent comments in an interview with The Atlantic appearing to support the country’s right to its own nation-state.

Ties between the Saudi Arabia and Israel have reportedly grown closer behind the scenes, despite the former still not officially acknowledging Israel’s existence, in response to the aggression of regional rival Iran.

“We have a common enemy, and it seems that we have a lot of potential areas to have economic cooperation,” Mohammed bin Salman said.

“We cannot have relations with Israel before solving the peace issue with the Palestinians because both of them they have the right to live and coexist,” he explained.

But “when it happens, of course next day we’ll have good and normal relation with Israel and it will be in the best for everyone”.

The crown prince’s inclusion on the Time cover follows a poll on the magazine’s website in December that saw him ranked ‘person of the year’ by online readers.

The vote was separate from Time’s actual ‘person of the year’ selected by editorial staff.

This article was first published in Gulf Business

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Saudi- Director of UNODC’s Division of Treaty Affairs: KSA leads G20 countries on privatization

Time: April 05, 2018

Riyadh, Rajab 19, 1439, April 05, 2018, SPA — The Director of National Anti-Corruption Commission and UNODC’s Division of Treaty Affairs, John Brandolino, has praised the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in fighting corruption, stressing that it led the G20 countries on the subject of privatization, expressing his aspirations to work and cooperate with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) in the field of protecting integrity and combating corruption in public and private sectors.
This came during his speech at the opening ceremony of the Third Nazaha International Conference organized by National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) entitled “Protecting Integrity and Fighting Corruption in Privatization Programs”, which was patronized on behalf of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh Region.
On the sidelines of the opening ceremony, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) by President of National Anti-Corruption Commission Dr. Khaled bin Abdulmohsen Al-Muhaisen and Director of National Anti-Corruption Commission and UNODC’s Division of Treaty Affairs, Director John Brandolino.

This article was first published in MENAFN

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Saudi anti-corruption sweep will reach low-level cases: official

Time: April 04, 2018

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Tuesday that the government campaign against corruption, which targeted the business and political elite last year, would work its way through lower-level offences.

“The campaign is ongoing as long as there is even a simple case (of corruption) … and it will not end until (all) corruption cases are finished,” prosecutor Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb told state television in a clip posted online, without providing details.

Authorities rounded up dozens of princes, top officials and businessmen in November on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s orders, with many confined and interrogated at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Most detainees, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government, which says it arranged to seize more than $100 billion through such deals.

The Ritz was cleared out and reopened to the public in February, though 56 people who had not reached settlements by then remained in custody and could face trial.

Prince Mohammed is currently touring the United States to promote investment in the kingdom, touting the corruption sweep as critical to transforming an oil-dependent economy long plagued by graft but now contending with lower global crude prices.

Yet the campaign remains shrouded in secrecy with few specific allegations or details of financial settlements revealed.

This article was first published in Reuters

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Saudi anti-corruption drive paying off, says attorney general

Time: April 04, 2018

Manama: Saudi Arabia has begun to reap the benefits of the massive anti-corruption campaign in all facilities, the kingdom’s attorney general has said.

“The campaign against graft will remain as long as there is corruption, even in minor issues,” Saud Al Mojeb told Saudi news television Al Ikbariya on Tuesday.

“There are cases being addressed by the prosecution and Saudis would soon hear good news about the anti-graft campaign.”

The Attorney General, a member of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Committee set up in November to fight corruption, did not provide further details.

In January, he said that 56 corruption suspects, out of 381 high-profile figures, including ministers, businessmen and officials detained after the formation of the committee, were still held on graft charges.

Out of court settlements with the other suspects had topped SR400 billion in various forms of assets, which include real estate, commercial entities, securities and cash, he said.

The committee is headed by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and comprises the President of the Control and Investigation Board, the President of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the President of the General Auditing Bureau, the Attorney General at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the head of the Presidency of State Security.

Saudi Arabia said the committee’s objective is to discipline the efforts to trace and combat corruption at all levels.

“It will log offenses and crimes related to individuals and entities in cases of corruption involving public funds, investigate cases, issue arrest warrants, travel restrictions, disclose and freeze portfolios and accounts,” they said.

“Its powers include the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities.”

Saudi Arabia launched an anti-corruption drive in November, rounding up hundreds of suspects including some of the country’s richest individuals and government ministers.

Billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal was among those detailed at the 492-room Ritz-Carlton, as was former Finance Minister Ebrahim Al Assaf and Adel Al Fakeih, who was removed as minister of economy and planning on the eve of the arrests.

Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption campaign has netted more than $106 billion (Dh389 billion, 400 billion riyal) in financial settlements.

According to a statement issued by the government’s information office, Al Mojeb also said that the settlement represented various types of assets including real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets.

This article was first published in Gulf News

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