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Businessman held over $26.6 mln illegal transaction in Saudi Arabia

Saudi businessman and two of his Asian workers arrested for allegedly conducting illegal transaction and money laundering

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Police have arrested a Saudi businessman and two of his Asian workers for allegedly conducting illegal transaction of SR100 million and accused them of money laundering, a Saudi Gazette report has revealed. The Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution probed the three after receiving a bank message that huge amounts have been deposited in the account of the businessman’s establishment by companies and individuals in and outside the Kingdom.

The case was later passed on to the Administration Court, which leveled semi-money laundering charge against the three and sentenced them to imprisonment without confiscating the amount SR100 million ($26.6 million) deposited in the suspicious account. It sentenced the Saudi businessman to one year and his two expatriate workers for six months each and banned the businessman from traveling abroad. It did not prevent deportation of the two expats.

According to a report in Al-Watan, the businessman runs a well-known establishment in Jeddah that deals with construction material. “Huge amounts have been transferred to the account from local and foreign companies,” the paper reported, quoting a source, adding that the businessman’s lawyer presented all bills and records of money deposited in the bank account by companies and individuals.

“While reviewing the bills it was noticed that the establishment was involved in more than one trading activities and its account received money transfers from unknown parties, which was the reason for the bureau to accuse the businessman of money laundering,” the source said. Investigations have also proved that the two Asians were coordinating with companies and individuals and supplying requirements of its clients on the basis of deals signed with them, the source explained.

The bank informed the bureau about the account after observing transactions of huge amounts through it in order to clear itself from responsibility for any suspicious financial activity. The bank noticed that huge amounts have been deposited in the account by Saudi and foreign firms.

However, the public prosecutor insisted that the three were engaging in illegal financial transactions and should be punished under the money laundering act. He also demanded imprisonment of the three and deportation of the two expats and confiscation of the deposited amount.

Lawyer Asim Mulla, who defended the three suspects, told Al-Watan that the money-laundering charge should be made on the basis of clear proof. “The verdict should be on the basis of clear evidence not on suspicion and the money deposited in the account should be returned.”

He said the punishment for money laundering charges should be given on the basis of law. “It is very easy to find out money laundering cases if there are no bills and records for bank deposits. In this case, the three defendants have presented documents to prove that the money deposited in the account was legal money. So, the court did not seize the amount,” he explained.

This article was first published the Saudi Gazette on November 02, 2016.