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Saudi Arabia arrests and detains 298 top government officials over corruption

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Hundreds of government officials, including military and security personnel, have been detained in Saudi Arabia on charges involving bribery and exploiting public office.

The announcement late on Sunday by Saudi’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) also said that investigators would bring charges against those currently held in custody.

In 2017, security forces arrested scores of princes and members of the kingdom’s political and business elite in what was billed as in an attempt to combat corruption among the higher echelons of the Saudi bureaucracy.

Those arrested were locked up for weeks in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where some were reportedly physically mistreated.

According to experts, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the son of King Salman and heir to the throne, used the purge to remove people who could potentially pose a political threat.

The royal court said last year it was winding down that campaign after 15 months, but the authorities later said they would start going after graft by ordinary government employees.

Nazaha tweeted on Sunday that it had arrested and would indict 298 people on crimes such as bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power involving a total of 379 million riyals ($101m).

Among those implicated are eight defence ministry officers suspected of bribery and money laundering regarding government contracts during the years 2005-2015; and 29 interior ministry officials in the Eastern Province, including three colonels, a major general and a brigadier general.

Two judges were also detained for receiving bribes, along with nine officials accused of corruption at Riyadh’s Almaarefa University, following a partial building collapse which caused deaths and injuries, Nazaha said.

The agency provided no names and few other details about the cases.

 
 
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