By Amy Glass
Government policies fail to prevent increase in Saudi corruption cases, says report.
Corruption and bribery cases continue to increase in Saudi Arabia, despite legislative efforts to fight the practice, UAE daily Gulf News reported on Wednesday.
According to a Saudi Interior Ministry report, bribery cases in the kingdom increased by 15% in 2007 with over 500 cases reported in Riyadh alone.
The report noted that 237 Saudis were involved in corruption cases in Riyadh while 221 expatriates were accused of bribery last year. The report did not disclose the full figure of cases throughout the kingdom.
Saudi anti-corruption laws stipulate severe punishment against those who receive bribes, stating that employees who accept gifts or promises to perform any duties face 10 years imprisonment or fines of up to one million riyals ($267,000).
The government report follows the 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), published in September by anti-corruption coalition Transparency International, which placed Saudi Arabia as the most corrupt Gulf country with a score of 3.4.
The index ranks the degree of public sector corruption as perceived by business people and country analysts between zero and 10, with 10 being the least corrupt.
Transparency International judged Syria as the Middle East nation with the highest level of corruption, giving the country as score of just 2.4 and placing it 138th.
The UAE and Qatar were judged the least corrupt countries in the region, but the UAE saw its CPI score drop from 6.2 in 2006 to 5.7 in 2007, while Qatar’s score remained at 6.0.
The least corrupt countries on the list were New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Singapore and Sweden and the countries with the highest levels of corruption were Somalia and Myanmar.