RIYADH, November 4, 2017 – King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Saturday ordered the launch of a new anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia as part of an active reform agenda aimed at tackling a persistent problem that has hindered development efforts in the Kingdom in recent decades.
The anti-corruption committee established according to Royal Order will be headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The members include the President of the Control and Investigation Board; the President of the National Anti-Corruption Commission; the President of the General Auditing Bureau; the Attorney General at the Public Prosecutor’s Office; and the head of the Presidency of State Security.
The committee’s objective is to discipline the efforts to trace and combat corruption at all levels. It will log offenses and crimes related to individuals and entities in cases of corruption involving public funds, investigate cases, issue arrest warrants, travel restrictions, disclose and freeze portfolios and accounts. Its powers include, amongst others, the ability to trace funds and assets, and prevent their transfer or liquidation on behalf of individuals or entities along with the right to take any precautionary actions until cases are referred to relevant investigatory or judiciary authorities.
The committee’s mandate allows it “to do what it takes to hold accountable all those involved in corruption cases and to take what action it sees fit with regard to individuals and entities, funds, fixed and movable assets domestically and internationally, returning funds to the state’s public treasury, registering the assets and funds as state property, deciding to take whatever actions that protect the public interest, with consideration given to those who cooperate with it,” the Order said.
The committee’s formation was deemed necessary “due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds,” the Royal Order said.
It said the move was also necessitated by the “dangers of corruption and its negative effects on the country, from a political, economic, social and security perspective, continuing our endeavor to protect honesty, combat corruption and eradicate it, firmly applying laws against all those who usurped public funds, did not protect them, squandered or stole them, or who misused power and influence in the tasks and works they were entrusted with.”
The Order said that according to religious clerics, “the sanctity of public funds is greater than the sanctity of private funds”.
The committee may seek assistance from whomever it sees fit, and can set up and empower investigations, reporting and accountability teams, and others, as needed.
Upon completing its duties, the committee shall prepare a detailed report on its findings, conclusions and actions taken, the Order noted, with a requirement for all specialist entities to adopt the Order immediately, and all relevant agencies to cooperate fully to accomplish the Order’s mandate.