Saudi anti-corruption probe head to target government employees

The new anti-corruption chief will check in with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a monthly basis

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan June 29, 2019. Yuri Kadobnov/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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Saudi Arabia’s new anti-corruption commission chief said he aims to target public servants amid new efforts to stamp out corruption in the Kingdom.

Mazen Al Khamous said he had been directed to focus on ending bureaucratic corruption in the country and follow up with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a monthly basis.

"After the country largely rid itself of the big heads of corruption, I convey a stern warning from the crown prince, who instructed me that the coming period will be to eradicate corruption among mid- and low-level public servants," Mr Al Kamous told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.

The Kingdom began a sweeping corruption crackdown in 2017, where authorities rounded up dozens of people on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's orders, 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.

More than 100 billion dollars were recovered through settlements with dozens of officials.

After the crackdown, Saudi King Salman ordered the special departments be established in the public prosecutor's office to investigate and prosecute corruption cases.

The public prosecutor said then that the campaign would work its way through lower-level offences.

Prince Mohammed has defended the anti-corruption campaign, calling it "shock therapy", as he tries to overhaul the Arab world's largest economy and transform its society.

The sweeping changes Prince Mohammed has enacted are part of Saudi Vision 2030, a reform programme looking to revamp the oil-based economy. It has so far included arresting clerics, opening cinemas in the country and ending the ban on women driving.

Earlier this year, authorities suspended 126 local government employees at municipalities across the country on corruption charges and abuse of power.

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