Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat-The Saudi Interior Ministry yesterday threatened to impose automatic provisional seizure on any bank account advertised for raising funds before obtaining the approval of the relevant authorities in a preventive and organizational step to prevent funds from reaching groups that are not licensed to carry out these charity functions.
Major General Mansour al-Turki, the ministry’s security spokesman, told Asharq Al-Awsat that this step by his ministry is aimed at organizing the raising of contributions in legal ways and preventing the transfer of money to banking accounts that raise funds without official cover. He stressed that the measure is bound to avert the exploitation of charity work for what it is not intended and not to harm and distort this work by organizing the charity foundations and organizations’ process of raising contributions in Saudi Arabia, whether those who organize charity and social functions or others.
The measure follows the spread of the phenomenon of some persons announcing their bank accounts for them to be used to raise funds without obtaining official approval from the supervising authorities like the Islamic Affairs, Emoluments, and Guidance Ministry and the Social Affairs Ministry.
Al-Turki said the relevant authorities will apply the automatic provisional seizure to any bank account advertised for raising funds before obtaining the approval of the relevant authorities and subject the official responsible for this to the rules applied in Saudi Arabia. He added this came after advertisements were noticed for raising funds by using technology like cellular phone messages, the internet, or the various media organs without obtaining the approval of the official relevant authorities. He underlined the need for caution and not to get drawn by the advertisements for raising funds before checking their legality and the legitimacy of the party behind them and to report any suspicious case to toll free telephone No. 8001222224.
The Saudi Interior Ministry’s spokesman stressed that newspapers and other media organs should not accept an advertisement for a banking account from anyone unless he proves officially he is authorized to raise funds for charity work and added that there are some noble aims sought by some charity organizations but this action now needs to be organized and it necessitates confirmation of the credibility of any action to raise contributions by checking its licensing.
This decision confirms a report published by Asharq Al-Awsat on 17 December 2009 which said the security authorities in Saudi Arabia had started, on the orders of Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin-Abdulaziz, to take “provisional seizure” of bank accounts used for raising funds without obtaining a license for that purpose and this was seen as a preventive step to prevent the funds from reaching the terrorist groups inside the country. Saudi Arabia witnessed recently advertisements in newspapers for bank accounts for use to raise funds for various charitable functions. Official instructions issued by the higher authorities at the time underlined the importance of not heeding the requests for contributions through unlicensed bank accounts for fear that Al-Qaeda might exploit the alms and handouts of Saudis and residents to finance terrorist operations.