Saudi Arabia steps up crackdown on shadow economy

The new legislation includes fines of as much as $1.3mln and up to five years in prison for violators

  
Kingdom Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Kingdom Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to crack down on the shadow economy.


It follows the introduction of an anti-concealment law to ensure that foreign investors operating in the Kingdom are doing so under the correct commercial arrangements and with the relevant licenses in place.

The Kingdom’s commerce ministry referred 446 commercial concealment cases to the Public Prosecution during the first half of this year, Al Eqtisadiah reported. At the same time, some 16,000 inspections were carried out on businesses to verify their compliance.

The new legislation includes fines of as much as SR5 million ($1.3 million) and up to five years in prison for violators. It also rewards whistleblowers with up to 30 percent of any fine collected, while protecting their identity.

The government in March introduced an option for people in breach of the new law to make the necessary changes needed to become compliant. The grace period to make such changes expires on Aug. 23, 2021 by which time they are expected to either operate under the rule of the new law or face the legal consequences.

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