Saudi king orders whistleblower protections in anti-corruption push

RIYADH (Reuters): Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered protection for employees who report financial and administrative corruption, Al Arabiya TV reported on Sunday, as part of an effort to combat graft that saw dozens of royals and top businessmen detained last year.

The decree shields whistleblowers from “violation of their privileges or rights”, the Saudi-run broadcaster said in an online report, without providing details.

Most of the people detained in the anti-corruption drive, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released from Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government. The government said such deals brought in more than $100 billion.

The Ritz was cleared out and reopened to the public in February, though 56 people who had not reached settlements by then remained in custody and could face trial.

The anti-corruption campaign is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push to transform an oil-dependent economy, long plagued by graft, that must now cope with lower crude prices. But it remains shrouded in secrecy, with few details of the allegations or the financial settlements disclosed.

King Salman in March ordered the establishment of specialized departments in the public prosecutor’s office in order to accelerate the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases, and the public prosecutor said last month that the campaign would work its way through lower-level offences.