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Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s state anti-corruption watchdog has said 97 employees at several ministries had been arrested over suspected involvement in bribery and influence peddling, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

The Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority said it had interrogated 147 suspects, including employees at the ministries of defence, interior, health, education, municipal affairs and housing, and transport during the past Islamic month of Safar.

Out of them 97 persons had been arrested on charges of bribery, job exploitation, money laundering and forgery, the watchdog added.

Some of them were later released on bail. Legal procedures against the accused are being completed before referring them to court, it said.

The agency urged members of the public to help protect public money by reporting any suspected financial or administrative corruption.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up a crackdown on white-collar corruption, arresting dozens of state employees and entrepreneurs.