Legal developments

In the wake of Saudi Arabia’s headline-grabbing anti-corruption drive in November, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman instructed the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (the Council) to ensure that companies affiliated with individuals subject to investigations are not affected by the Kingdom’s efforts to address the issue of corruption. This comes as an move to assure investors that they can continue to operate in Saudi Arabia with confidence.

The Council emphasised that all investigations are in accordance with laws and regulations and that the new anti-corruption measures are a key part of Vision 2030 and creating a fair and level playing field for all.

Arab News – 8 November 2017

No change to job titles in Iqama

Expatriates working in Saudi Arabia are required to have a work permit (colloquially referred to as an Iqama). The Iqama must clearly state the job title of the individual and, in case of an inspection or raid on the employer, the individual should be found working within the ambit of his or her job title in order to avoid further enquiries or possible penalties by the Saudi authorities.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MOL) announced in November that it has stopped the service of changing job titles in Iqamas – although this can be challenged electronically.

Saudi Gazette – 8 November 2017

Saudization is a colloquial term used to refer to the Kingdom’s official government policy of ensuring the hiring, training, and development of Saudi Arabian nationals over expatriate employees in the Kingdom. The MOL in November announced that Saudi Arabian employees over the age of 60 years will no longer be counted as Saudi employees in an employer’s Saudization rate.

Saudi Gazette – 8 November 2017

A new Anti-Money Laundering Law was enacted on 25 October 2017, and provides that any person who commits a money laundering crime will be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of between three and 15 years and/or a payment of a fine of no more than SAR 7 million (about US$1.9 million). Saudi nationals will also be banned from travelling for the same period as their prison period, once released. Non-Saudis will be deported after completing their sentence and will be banned from entering the Kingdom again.

A money laundering crime according to the new law includes conducting any transaction involving property or proceeds with the knowledge that they are the result of criminal activity or originate from an illegitimate source in order to disguise, protect or help that source or any other person involved in the original crime through which the property or proceeds were obtained.

Arab News – 5 November 2017

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) announced in November that a new monitoring system for the sale and entry of medicines in the market would be put in place as part of the 2020 National Transformation Program. The monitoring system will require all medicines to be stored in boxes carrying a bar code and is aimed at preventing the sale and entry of illegal medicines in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Gazette – 12 November 2017

93 per cent rise in concealment cases

As described in October’s Update , Tasattur (or concealment) is the colloquial name for the practice by which unlicensed foreign investors carry out business in the name of Saudi nationals in return for payment, and is in violation of the Kingdom’s Anti-Concealment Law.

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MOCI) has inspected 14,701 establishments in an effort to expose and penalise cases of Tassatur and reported that such cases have increased by about 93 per cent during 2017 – there were 871 cases discovered this year as compared to 450 cases in 2016.

Saudi Gazette – 25 October 2017