Violators of anti-commercial concealment law in Saudi given last chance

Commercial concealment is defined as any illegal business practice that enables non-Saudi individuals or businesses to illegally engage in commercial activities

  
Buildings are seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 16, 2021.

Buildings are seen in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 16, 2021.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

Saudi authorities are working relentlessly to combat commercial concealment to ensure a transparent business environment in the Kingdom.

Commercial concealment is defined as any illegal business practice that enables non-Saudi individuals or businesses to illegally engage in commercial activities.

The Saudi Ministry of Commerce recently announced new regulations that offer a way for such operators to rectify their status via a series of easy steps.

The rules include a corrective period that ends on Aug. 23 during which time violators can correct and legalize their status.

The period provides multiple options for Saudis or non-Saudis to apply to the ministry to legitimize their business practices and avoid penalties.

There are a number of options available for individuals or businesses that breach the Kingdom’s anti-commercial concealment law.

During the corrective period, a partnership agreement can be entered into with non-Saudis using a Saudi citizen’s name as a front to operate their business. However, the non-Saudi should meet all legal requirements in order to be able to establish a partnership.

Another option offers the chance to register the ownership of a business or commercial entity in the name of a non-Saudi if they are eligible to own a facility in that particular sector.

Also, a Saudi partner can continue with the business by introducing a new partner, who could be a Saudi or a licensed foreign investor, after fulfilling the legal requirements and registering the commercial entity with the ministry.

In addition, options allow for the possibility of a Saudi national to sell their business or even dissolve it following all legal formalities.

In the case of a non-Saudi, they will be given the opportunity to obtain a premium residency visa and rectify the status of their business.

Lastly, a non-Saudi can leave the Kingdom permanently by applying for a final exit visa, after submitting a pledge to abandon all rights to their business and declaring this with the ministry within a period of 30 days.

The Ministry of Commerce reserves the right to consider requests to rectify a business’ legal status and it ensures that requests meet all the requirements to benefit from the amnesty.

If an application meets all legal requirements, the ministry informs the applicant to take necessary measures to rectify his or her business’ status within 90 days of the official notification.

The ministry also has the right to extend this period on a case-by-case basis.

If an applicant fails to succeed in rectifying their legal status within the 90-day limit, they will still have the option to explore other available routes within 180 days.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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