Riyadh at night. The cases range from bribery, forgery, influence peddling and administrative authority misuse. Image Credit: Agency

Cairo: A Saudi anti-graft watchdog said it has investigated 117 cases of financial and administrative corruption during the month of Ramadan as the country presses ahead with a tough clampdown on white-collar malpractices.

The watchdog, officially known as the Control and Anti-Corruption Authority, Nazaha, has revealed details of some such cases that range from bribery, forgery, influence peddling and administrative authority misuse.

One case involves two personnel at a security company who took advantage of the government support for private sector businesses and employees impacted by the novel coronavirus bearing 60 per cent of Saudi workers’ salaries, the Saudi news agency SPA reported. The two suspects used false data by registering a number of the company's employees in the eligibility system in return for obtaining 50 per cent of the financial support provided to each employee.

A second case is pertaining to an employee at the Tourism Ministry who violated his job duties and received bribes in collusion with 13 others in return for helping award lease contracts for a number of hotels in the Red Sea city of Jeddah rented by the government to provide quarantine accommodation for Saudi citizens returning from abroad, according to SPA.

A third case, which Nazaha disclosed, is about the involvement of of a lawyer, three administrators in public prosecution and a security man in the General Directorate of Prisons in bribes through the lawyer who had previously served as a prosecution member and offered bribes to the two administrators in return for providing him with information and documents on some cases and directing defendants to hire him.

An official in Nazaha said that not all suspects are in custody. “Some people have been released because the incidents involving them do not constitute crimes that deserve apprehension,” said Ahmad Al Hussain, the spokesman for the watchdog.

“Others have been released because their escape is not feared or because their release poses no harm to investigations and the trial proceedings,” he told state television Al Ekhbariya.

Al Hussein said those to be found out to have involved in corruption will be referred to competent courts for trial.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up a crackdown on corruption.