Saudi Arabia suspends 126 government employees over corruption

The charges also include abuse of power and 'criminal violations'

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 21, 2017 shows the hallway of the Ritz Carlton hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia said on November 9, 201 people are being held for questioning over an estimated $100 billion in embezzlement and corruption, after the biggest purge of the kingdom's elite in its modern history which also comes amid heightened regional tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh is rumoured to be the site where many of those arrested are being held. / AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE
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Saudi Arabia has suspended 126 local government employees at municipalities across the kingdom on corruption charges and abuse of power.

"They are charged with involvement in a number of cases including financial and managerial corruption, abuse of power as well as other legal and criminal violations," the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs said on Twitter.

Those charged with corruption will be transferred to the prosecutor's office where a specialised team of investigators will look into their case.

Those in Jeddah and on the west coast have been particularly vocal. Sources told The National that the drainage systems in the city lack the proper infrastructure and result in a virtual "state of emergency" whenever it rains heavily.Although the specific cases are still unknown, many in Saudi Arabia have criticised the municipality over their failure to enact infrastructure programmes and accuse them of favouritism when granting government contracts.

Heavy rainfall earlier this week caused schools to shut in Tabuk, Arar and Al Jawf. Flooding required dozens to be saved from underpasses around the cities and threatened to cancel flights from Jeddah International Airport.

In November, torrential rains killed thirty people in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia, or Hejaz, and triggered a national evacuation programme where 3,865 people were relocated.

The move comes after a sweeping corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia. In 2017, Saudi authorities rounded up dozens of people on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's orders amid a new effort to stamp out corruption, with more than 300 held 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.

After the crackdown, Saudi King Salman ordered the establishment of specialised departments in the public prosecutor's office tasked with investigation and prosecution of corruption cases. The public prosecutor said then that the campaign would work its way through lower-level offences.