Cairo: A Saudi court sentenced an expatriate to five years in prison on charges of money laundering after he had been caught trying to smuggle gold from the kingdom, prosecutors have said.
The court also ordered the 24K gold haul be confiscated and the defendant be deported from the kingdom after he serves his term.
Investigations showed that the man, whose nationality was not given, had attempted to smuggle 16 gold bars weighing two kilograms at a Saudi airport by having secretly hidden them into a bag he was carrying while travelling to his home country.
He was charged with violating the kingdom’s anti-money laundering law. There was no word about the date or location of the thwarted smuggling bid.
Saudi public prosecution confirmed keenness to stop any attempt to exploit precious stones in money laundering crimes, and vowed to refer to trial anyone accused of harming the kingdom’s economy to face tough penalties.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up anti-money laundering efforts as part of a crackdown on corruption.
In October, a Saudi court convicted seven people — an Arab expatriate and six Saudi citizens — on charges of money laundering of more than SR1 billion and handed them varying imprisonment sentences reaching 13 years for some defendants.
The Saudi defendants were found to have set up registers for commercial entities and related bank accounts for the expatriate, who exploited them to collect money of unknown origin and put it into the accounts to lend it legitimacy and transfer it to outside the kingdom.
The laundered money amounted to SR1.3 billion. An investigation into the source of the collected money revealed it was the result of crimes and violations of several Saudi laws.
Last August, the kingdom referred two expatriates to trial on charges of money laundering worth SR2.4 million.
Under Saudi law, money laundering is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of SR7 million. If the convict is a Saudi national, he/she is also barred from travelling outside the kingdom for a period equivalent to the given imprisonment term. The non-Saudi convict is deported from the country after serving the jail term.