Saudi Arabia arrests five state employees in anti-corruption drive

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praises personnel at the anti-corruption commission as ‘knights’

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANDRE PAIN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10531640c)
An aerial view shows the skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 10 January 2020 (issued 21 January 2020).
Riyadh architecture, Saudi Arabia - 10 Jan 2020
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Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman renewed his support for the kingdom's anti-corruption commission, calling its personnel "knights in a battle" after five government employees were arrested for financial wrongdoing.

In a letter to the commission, Crown Prince Mohammed thanked every member of the organisation, which is responsible for preserving the public purse and making sure state employees do not use position for personal gain.

“Today they are knights in the fierce battle to extract corruption from our dear homeland,” Crown Prince Mohammed said on Saturday.

On Friday, the commission said that five municipal employees in the vicinity of Riyadh were arrested after their swelling bank accounts were monitored.

The equivalent of at least $12 million (Dh44.1m) in cash were also found in their possession, as well as six handguns.

All five admitted to charges such as taking bribes, embezzlement of public money and money laundering, the commission said.

It said four of the five were low-ranking permanent employees, holding ranks from eight to 14 on an official salary scale, while the fifth was on a contract.

The commission, officially named the National Anti-Corruption Commission, underwent a management shake-up last year as part of Crown Prince Mohammed’s drive to curb graft, a pillar of his vision for the modernisation of the kingdom.

He instructed the commission in July to investigate "suspicious financial transactions" at the Defence Ministry, resulting in the removal a month later of Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, commander of joint forces in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.