Saudi Arabia, dozens of top officials accused of corruption

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The Saudi authorities have opened a criminal investigation into corruption cases at the Ministry of Defense, for an amount of 325 million dollars. The Saudi Anti-Corruption Commission said Thursday that the investigation, which involves dozens of officials and businessmen, includes more than 158 corruption cases. And authorities are now investigating employees of the Ministries of Finance, Health and Education as well, the BBC reported today.

The “Saudi Press Agency,” the first national news outlet, confirmed that a number of officials and civil servants working at the Ministry of Defense, along with others, have been involved in suspicious financial affairs, committing corruption crimes. They exploited the influence and fraud of the offices, squandering public money and money laundering, to obtain illicit financial gains of one billion, 229 million, and 400 thousand Riyals (over 612 million US dollars).

Riyadh’s state agency also added that the commission investigated 48 people and 44 of them were arrested. While the investigators are working to recover the funds looted from the state coffers. In 2017, hundreds of princes, ministers, and businessmen were locked up in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, demanding to pay millions of dollars for their release.

In March 2020, “Reuters” citing a diplomatic source, revealed that the Saudi monarch, His Royal Highness Salman bin Abdelaziz, had signed the arrest warrant for three princes. Among these were Prince Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, brother of King Salman, and Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, grandson of the Saudi monarch. The three had allegedly planned a coup, and they have been accused of high treason.

The agency noted that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Prince Muhammad bin Salman, son of King Salman, has moved to consolidate his authority since Prince Muhammad bin Nayef was removed from the Pact’s mandate in 2017, noting that Prince Muhammad detained several members of the royal family in the same year. Other Saudi prominent personalities have been inside the “Ritz-Carlton” hotel in Riyadh for months in a campaign against corruption.

Prince Muhammad bin Salman, 34, has raised discontent among some important branches of the ruling family due to his grip on power. Several critics within the country have questioned its ability to lead the country, following the killing of famous journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. As well as following the largest attack on the Kingdom’s oil infrastructure, which occurred in last year.

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