Saudi Arabia convicts 18 people of bribery and fraud: SPA

Reuters , Tuesday 19 Nov 2019

Saudi Arabia has convicted 18 people, including government officials and private sector employees, of bribery, fraud and abuse of office, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday, without identifying them.

The rulings followed an investigation by the public prosecutor, who presented "strong evidence" of corruption, SPA said. Punishments included jail sentences of up to 16 years and monetary fines totalling 4 million riyals ($1.07 million).

The new head of the kingdom's anti-corruption commission pledged in August to go after graft by ordinary government employees, following a high-profile campaign two years ago that netted princes, ministers and top businessmen while unsettling some foreign investors.

The SPA report provided few details about the case in which 18 people were convicted, but said they included an executive-level government official who had received bribes from a businessman, abused his office and participated in fraud.

The businessman and employees of both men were also netted.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has defended the anti-corruption sweep he led in 2017, calling it "shock therapy", as he tries to overhaul the Arab world’s largest economy and transform Saudi society.

Critics said it amounted to a power play and a shakedown of the political rivals of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.

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