Saudi ambassador accused of Umrah visa bribes

Anti-corruption watchdog is investigating claims that official accepted bribes for restricted visas - report
Grand Mosque, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
By Courtney Trenwith
Wed 18 Dec 2013 01:33 PM

A Saudi ambassador is reportedly being investigated over allegations he accepted bribes to issue Umrah and tourist visas through his private office.

The unnamed state official is accused of receiving €150 ($206) for each visa. It was not revealed whether he had authority to issue the visas or whether they were valid.

The number of visas issued for the religious pilgrimage Umrah is heavily restricted each season, particularly at the moment as the kingdom spends $20bn upgrading Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca.

The case is being investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha).

Earlier this year, the kingdom’s anti-corruption chief called for greater cooperation with Nazaha and for government officials who refuse to provide information when requested to resign.

In response to criticism the kingdom remains rife with corruption more than two years after Nazaha was established, Mohammed Al Sharief said he would welcome someone else to take over the body’s top position if they could do a better job.

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