AlUla chief executive arrested over corruption allegations

Amr Al Madani is alleged to have illegally obtained contracts worth more than $56 million for a company he co-owns

Amr Al Madani. Photo: Royal Commission for AlUla
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The chief executive of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was arrested on Sunday over allegations of corruption.

The Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, better known as Nazaha, said that Amr Al Madani was detained in connection with alleged involvement in crimes of “abuse of authority and money laundering”.

A Nazaha source alleged that Mr Al Madani, before he joined the government, illegally obtained contracts for the National Talents Company – in which he is one of the owners – from the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, a scientific research and government organisation in Riyadh.

This was achieved through the mediation of a relative, it is alleged, and the contracts were valued at 206,630,905 Saudi riyals ($55 million).

After joining the government sector, Mr Al Madani continued to hold a stake in the company, recommending it to RCU departments, it is alleged.

This enabled Mr Al Madani to obtain projects valued at Saudi riyal 1,298,923 Saudi riyals, according to Nazaha.

He also acquired personal benefits from contracting companies and received profits from those projects through one of his relatives, Mohammed Al Harbi, it is alleged.

Mr Al Harbi was arrested after he admitted to receiving money from the company and transferring it to Mr Al Madani, said Nazaha.

Mr Al Madani’s partners in the company were also arrested.

Saeed Ahmed Saeed and Jamal Al Dabal admitted that they conspired with the chief executive with regard to the allegations, said the anti-corruption authority.

Nazaha said the prosecution was currently preparing for the trial of the detainees.

The kingdom's anti-corruption watchdog provides monthly briefings about the cases it is investigating.

Hundreds of senior government officials and employees, including security officers, have been detained on charges of bribery and obstructing the law since it came into effect in 2011.

Nazaha continue to call on citizens to report any suspicious activity involving financial or administrative corruption.

The government body said it would continue to pursue those who exploit their jobs to achieve personal gain or harm the public interest.

The RCU was established in 2017 to preserve and develop the 2,000-year-old archaeological and historical site of AlUla, in north-west Saudi Arabia, in line with the heritage and preservation priorities of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 programme.

AlUla is expected to contribute 120 billion riyals to Saudi Arabia’s economy.

Located 1,100km from Riyadh in north-western Saudi Arabia, AlUla covers 22,561km and is most recognised as the home to Mada’in Salih, Saudi Arabia’s first Unesco World Heritage site.

Updated: January 29, 2024, 5:09 PM