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A number of officials of the municipalities of a governorate of the Riyadh region were charged with money laundering, influence peddling and squandering of public funds. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Supplied / For illustrative purposes only

The Saudi Anti-Corruption Authority, Nazaha, Arabic for integrity, has arrested and investigated 374 citizens and residents, and referred them to the court to take legal action against them, according to an official source.

A number of officials of the municipalities of a governorate of the Riyadh region were charged with money laundering, influence peddling and squandering of public funds.

Five municipal officials, whose bank accounts were inflated, fell into the Nazaha’s net. They were an employee in the 14th grade, who worked as a municipality undersecretary and former head of that municipality, an employee in the 10th grade, who worked as a procurement and contracts manager, as well as an employee in the 8th grade, who worked in the procurement department and an employee in the 9th grade, who worked in the financial affairs department.

After search warrants were obtained, their houses were searched and SR45,960,900, SR360,000 in various foreign currencies, SR2.500,000 worth of prepaid cards for shopping from a food store, SR149.225 prepaid petrol cards, five gold bars, and six pistols were seized.

The first accused admitted to the crimes of exploiting the influence of public office for the purpose of illicit financial gain, forgery, embezzlement of public money by abusing municipal resources, bribery, and exploiting government contracts for his own personal benefit, and money laundering.

The accused purchased real estate and luxury vehicles worth SR20,000,000, in addition to an amount of SR1,545,000 in cash that was found in his home.

The second accused admitted to bribery, forgery and exploiting the influence of the public office for the purpose of illicit financial gain and exploitation of government contracts for his personal interests and embezzlement of public funds through the exploitation of municipal resources and money laundering by using these sums in the purchase of real estates and luxury vehicles, as well as an amount of SR35,150,700 in cash that was found in his home, of which SR4,500,000 belonged to the first.

The third accused admitted to bribery, forgery and exploitation of the influence of the public office for the purpose of illicit gain by facilitating the first and second to obtain contracts for their businesses and the exploitation of municipal resources, and money laundering by using these sums in the purchase of real estate and luxury vehicles. In addition an amount of SR5,496,500 was found in his home.

The fourth accused admitted to bribery and peddling of influence of the public office with the purpose of illicit financial gain by facilitating to the first and second to squander municipal resources for their own benefit, and money laundering by using theses sums in the purchase of real estate and luxury vehicles, as well as an amount of SR1,718,700 in cash was found in his home.

The fifth accused admitted to bribery, embezzlement of public funds and money laundering by exploiting his relationship with his relative (the second accused), who contracted with him to work in the municipality for a monthly salary of SR7,000, without working and handing him cash sums totaling SR20,000,000 for the purpose of buying a luxury vehicle and investing the rest in property, where 30 plots of land were purchased in the name of the fifth accused, part of it was developed, built and sold, and this resulted in an amount of SR6,000,000 of which an amount of SR4,000,00 was available in his bank account, and an amount of SR2,050,000 was found in his home.

The President of the Control and Anti-Corruption Authority Mazen Bin Ibrahim Al Kahmous has received a letter of appreciation from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

The appreciation letter, the official source said, was addressed to the Authority's employees.

It reads,“I thank each one of the authority's employees. They act nowadays as the knights of this fierce fight against corruption, to eventually eradicate it from our dear country.”

Al Kahmous affirmed that this letter is a source of pride and appreciation for the unlimited support the leadership provides to the authority to carry out its jurisdiction and perform its tasks in fighting financial and administrative corruption in all its manifestations and forms.