Global Fraud Footprint

Middle East fraud and corruption enigma

Fabulous wealth, staggering poverty, political imbalances and ancient tribal cultures can worsen fraud and corruption. But some organizations and governments in the Middle East are beginning to take tougher stances.

The Middle East is a land of complex extremes: extravagant wealth and gleaming skyscrapers juxtaposed against stunning poverty and ramshackle homes. The region also has a byzantine relationship with corruption and fraud. Middle Eastern nations’ efforts to combat these crimes, which are as complex as the collective history of the area, require the participation of the private and public sectors. Fraud fighters might have difficulty in doing their jobs if their countries’ governments don’t enforce, for example, anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, and so their organizations might not have an impetus to increase their fraud risk management programs, their AML compliance programs and anti-fraud controls.

Sectarian strife and bloody conflict grip Yemen and Syria. But the United Arab Emirates (UAE) showcases engineering marvels built with petroleum profits. And Qatar prepares to serve as an unlikely host of the highest-profile sporting event in the world — the World Cup. Turmoil and success each carry unique fraud risks, whether it’s a lack of central authority incapable of preventing large-scale graft or fraudsters targeting the fabulously rich and exploiting international investment.

Saudi Arabia is demonstrating a show of force in its fight against fraud and corruption. In November 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) launched a massive anti-corruption crackdown by rounding up scores of the country’s princes, ministers and businessmen. He held some of them for months in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel and later moved some to a prison. MBS said the anti-corruption program was his “shock therapy” as he tries to overhaul the economy.

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