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Cairo: An appeals court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a local mosque imam to a total of five years in prison on charges of fraud, harming judicial reputation and breach of mistrust, a local news portal has reported.

The court in the kingdom’s northwestern region of Tabuk also ordered the defendant to pay a fine of SR55,000 to be deposited into the state treasury, Alweeam added.

The defendant, an ex-employee of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, was convicted of defrauding a Saudi man and duping him by claiming that he has strong links to a judge hearing the latter’s case related to a marriage contract annulment, and that he could help resolve it in return for money.

The defendant had also alleged that court judges received bribes, the report said.

The case came to authorities’ attention after the Saudi man lodged a legal complaint against the imam, who was caught taking SR24,000.

He admitted at the court to his misconduct and was convicted on fraud, and harming the judiciary’s reputation.

It was not exactly clear when the case surfaced, or when the verdict was delivered. In recent years, the kingdom has arrested dozens of state employees and entrepreneurs for suspected graft as part of a relentless crackdown on corruption.

Last month, Saudi Arabia announced establishing a prosecution branch to handle cases of financial fraud in a step aimed to fast-track related procedures.

The kingdom’s Attorney-General Saud Al Mojeb endorsed the establishment of the Prosecution for Financial Fraud Crimes, to be in charge of judicial anti-fraud procedures including interrogating suspects and filing relevant lawsuits at courts.

Under Saudi law, fraud is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of SR5 million.