The head of a Saudi royal commission has been arrested on corruption charges

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The CEO overseeing Saudi Arabia’s royal commission for its historic al-Ula site has been arrested on corruption and money-laundering charges over some $55 million in contracts, officials said.

The charges target Amr bin Saleh Abdulrahman al-Madani in part over “illegally obtaining” contracts to benefit a private company he had interests in through a relative before joining the government, the kingdom’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority said in a statement late Sunday. The contracts relate to the Kingdom Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, the statement said.

It said Al-Madani also recommended that private company for additional contracts through his work on the commission for al-Ula, an ancient desert city that’s been one focus of Saudi Arabia’s push for tourists.

It was not clear if al-Madani had a lawyer. The statement of the charges also were carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia under King Salman and his assertive son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, conducted a wide-ranging sweep of arrests after taking power over alleged corruption charges in 2017 that saw princes and other powerful members of its business community locked up in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the capital, Riyadh. That netted the government around $106.6 billion and secured Prince Mohammed’s power base.