INVESTORS from Saudi Arabia, Gulf, Arab and foreign countries are relieved after the arrest of a Saudi billionaire of Kuwaiti origin — Maan Al-Sanea; because this is the first important step towards realization of ‘Vision 2030’ on developing the Kingdom’s economy and putting it on the right path.
This also reassures Saudis that their rights are preserved and are not subject to those using their influence, connections or titles to deprive others of their rights.
Talking to MBC Satellite Channel a few months ago, the engineer of this audacious vision — Saudi’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman — asserted, “There is no way out for anyone involved in corruption, whether he is a prince or a minister … As long as there is enough evidence, that person will be prosecuted.”
This is the position in protecting Saudi’s public wealth and rights of the people. It is based on the principle anchored by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz since the start of his reign.
King Salman once said, “Our doors are open. Anyone with the right will take it even if it is from the king himself.” He reiterated this a few weeks ago, affirming that the Kingdom spares no effort, in its transitional stage to the fourth State, to prevent transgressions on people’s rights by using titles or influence or any other means.
Naturally, this issue does not progress outside the judicial course so it is imperative to complete its episodes. This is what happened to the case of billionaire Al-Sanea who thought he could get away from paying accumulated debts which reached 36 billion Saudi Riyals (slightly over $9.1 billion).
His case continued for almost six years as he stalled and evaded payment, until the order was issued by Saudi’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to end this series. Some cases are still pending despite going through and completing judicial procedures that are yet to be enforced like Al-Sanea’s case.
Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman ordered quick arrest of Al-Sanea. We hope this move will end the era of corrupt individuals or those who avoid returning the rights of people.
It is time to fortify rights, ensure equality and justice, and prevent anyone from violating laws and benefiting from his connections to escape from the country in spite of the travel ban imposed on them. They are the ones you will find hanging out in cafés in London, Paris or Beirut.
The lawsuit against Al-Sanea, prior to the execution of the sentence imposed on him; reminded me of the Egyptian film, ‘Oreedo Halla’ or ‘I Need a Solution,’ in which the claimant reached a locked passage when he cannot obtain his right under the pretext that the residence of the criminal who took advantage of his relations with police and some officials was unknown. In the end, the claimant failed to witness execution of the verdict issued in his favor and his right was wasted.
In Saudi Arabia, the conditions have changed and the last six years witnessed many of those shouting, “I need a solution,” due to the complicated relations of the influential including some rank holders, princes and rich who used to avoid giving the rights they owe to others. This step ended with the arrest of Al-Sanea who was hiding on the roof of a deserted building which is part of his lofty palace.
When Al-Sanea was arrested, his lawyer said: “We are ready to pay the money we owe.” This proves that avoidance and delay in giving rights to others were deliberate.
Revising the properties of Al-Sanea, including his marvelous palace, is a clear manifestation that he was pretending to be suffering from troubles.
The lawsuit was a source of worry for Saudi, Emirati, Kuwaiti and Gulf banks and companies which signed contracts with the man who took advantage of the trust that Al-Qusaibi family bestowed on him, because of affinity, to manage the family’s properties according to general authorizations and then he resorted to delaying payment of debts.
It is extremely necessary to publish the details of this issue to inform the public as the development unfolds.
It would serve as a beginning towards executing many other cases that are still collecting dust inside the drawers to the lackluster attitude or any other unknown reason.
His Highness the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who is working to brighten the country’s economic future through promises of freedom of investment, should pay attention to this.
If 2030 partially means attracting foreign investments then it is necessary that those capitals flowing into the kingdom are seriously protected with the power of law and rights of investors by quickly issuing verdicts without any delay.
It should not be a replica of the case of Al-Sanea who avoids paying debts which will be a source of concern and discourage investors.
This is because the continuity of such ‘open files’ will instill fear into the hearts of entrepreneurs and rightful owners. They will either refuse to pump the capital into the local market or deliberately move their money out of the country and invest it elsewhere in a safe place.
In contrast, this will also lead to lack of confidence in the banking, financial and investment sectors.
However, if the verdicts are issued on time the mindset of banks and financial institutions will change towards the Saudi market which currently needs huge investments to ensure success of ‘Vision 2030’ engineered by the young Saudi economist.