Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution has issued a clarification on the Kingdom’s Wiretapping Law. Under the clarification, correspondence, letters, publications, parcels or phone conversations cannot be intercepted or monitored unless it is authorised by the Law and the Public Prosecution have given a warrant or permission in line with Article 57 of Saudi Arabia Cabinet Decision No. 200/1422 (the Criminal Procedure Law). Even in these circumstances, monitoring should only be carried out for up to ten days initially although this can be renewed and in connection with a crime which has actually occurred.
Saudi Arabia’s’ King has approved the introduction of a new property deal tax. They issued a Royal Order to this effect and the tax will be levied at 5%. The Government will pay the costs of the new Real Estate Transaction Tax up to one million Riyals for Saudi citizens buying their first home. Property deals will also be exempt from VAT according to the Royal Order. It is part of the Kingdom’s response to the adverse economic effects of Coronavirus but is also aimed at encouraging Saudi citizens to own their own homes and supporting the residential and commercial property sector.
Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority has launched a public consultation on insurance policies for those who are involved in car accidents abroad and die or are injured. The proposal is for insurance companies to offer additional coverage including covering deaths, injuries and medical costs for insured people or drivers in accidents which happen outside the Kingdom. The aim of the law is to regulate the contractual relationship between an insured individual and an insurance company.
Saudi Arabia’s Monetary Authority has announced new money exchange business regulations have been approved. They are aimed at tackling money laundering and terrorist financing as well as protect clients.
They will come into force 30 days after they are issued and allow hotels, hotel apartments and tourist offices to exchange currencies from their customers provided these currencies are sold to a licensed bank or exchange centre and national anti-money laundering provisions and UN Security Council resolutions on the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their financing are complied with.
Licensed money changers will only be able to buy, sell and circulate foreign currencies and import and export currencies. They will be licensed by the Monetary Agency.
Exchange shops should not carry out any activities which they are not licensed to. This includes any other commercial business not approved by the Agency, opening current accounts, investment accounts, savings accounts, or any other accounts for their clients or employees. In addition, they should not issue letters of guarantee or open documentary credits or guarantees, lease safes, accept deposits or speculate in currencies, metals and stocks.
In addition, they have to comply with Saudisation requirements, contract with employment services companies regarding working hours, official holidays, appointments to leadership positions and provide an administrative structure which includes all departments and jobs. This structure has to specify the tasks of departments and individual duties and responsibilities. A compliance officer also has to be appointed.
Exchanges must set an appropriate framework to protect customers from fraud and loss of privacy and comply at all times with clear signs for the public indicating customer rights and provide clear channels to receive complaints and address them within seven days.
Exchanges also have to commit to anti-money laundering and terrorist financing instructions, identify, document and address risks and develop and implement appropriate and appropriate policies capital. In addition, they have to have two million Riyals in paid up capital. This is 7 million for payments to Centres who import and export cash have to have seven million Riyals in liquidity and centres authorised to transfer funds outside the Kingdom have to have 10 million Riyals. They also have to keep a cash reserve of between 5 and 10%.
Licenses will be valid for five years and may be renewed. If a license is being renewed, it has to be done six months before the license is due to expire. They have to commit to carry out the activity in a suitable location, not use the word bank or bank, identify suspicious and fraudulent transactions and comply with the risk management policy. They also have to record all operations in the automated system and maintain confidentiality of information.
In terms of attribution to a third party, an approved policy, which is periodically reviewed, has to exist and there should be no obstacles to accessing their data. They must also be licensed to practice their commercial activity.
When it comes to importing and exporting currencies, there have to be customs notifications at border crossings, all documents for the importing and exporting of currencies have to be kept and funds have to be prepared in an appropriate way before they are transferred.
Exchanges also have to comply with all Monetary Agency instructions in terms of consumer protection and transaction receipts. They also have to ensure currency rates are clearly on display and resolve complaints within a week.
They should ensure their confidential information is not disclosed. Periodic data has to include the location of the head office, branches, and other entities, holders of leadership positions and their job titles, a list of employee data and names, suspension or restriction of services. If they do not, their license will be temporarily suspended.
Their exchange permit will be cancelled if they do not meet the requirements of the regulations, if one of the license conditions is lost, if its information is found to be incorrect or if the centre harms its clients or the public interest. Their permit will also be cancelled if the inspection team is prevented from performing its task or if it refuses to provide the Agency with the requested documents.
Saudi Arabia’s Commerce Minister has announced they have approved an amendment to the bylaws of the Saudi Foreign Business Councils. Under Saudi Arabia Ministerial Decision No. 56103/1442, a system will be implemented to review the Regulations after a year. It will come into force on its issued date and has been published in the Official Gazette.
Saudi Arabia: The Board of Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority made an announcement on foreign investment
The Board of Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority has announced foreigners can directly invest in listed and unlisted debt instruments. The decision has been issued in line with the Authority’s plan to develop the financial market through the Financial Leadership Programme. It is also part of the Financial Sector Development Programme, which is one of the main programmes to meet the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Under the Decision, all foreign natural and legal persons can directly invest in debt instruments. Non-resident foreigners cannot invest in the market as a direct investor in listed debt instruments and as a qualified foreign investor or final beneficiary in a swap agreement at the same time. A foreign person who invests directly in debt instruments cannot convert them into shares listed in the main market unless they are one of the categories of investors who are allowed to invest directly in shares listed on the main market, or becomes a final beneficiary in a swap agreement according to the provisions of the Authority’s instructions regarding swap agreements.
Saudi Arabia: Centre for Commercial Arbitration Signs Cooperation Agreement with British Royal Legal Surveyors
Saudi Arabia’s Centre for Commercial Arbitration has signed a cooperation agreement with the British Royal Society of Legal Surveyors. The agreement is aimed at encouraging the use of alternatives to settling disputes, particularly mediation in the contracting sector. It is also aimed at encouraging and enhancing growth and boosting confidence and investment in the contracting and real estate sector in the Kingdom. The Centre added the agreement is aimed at establishing a long-term cooperation relationship to encourage the exchange of professional knowledge and professional development of dispute settlement and avoid contracting sector disputes.
Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission has unveiled a campaign against trafficking in people. The campaign, entitled ‘Together to Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Kingdom’ was launched by head of the Human Rights Commission ahead of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons which is marked on 30 July. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has also sought to reform its justice system. Recent changes have included the abolition of the death penalty for minor offenders and flogging as a form of punishment.
The General Director for Systems and Companies Policies in Saudi Arabia’s Trade Ministry has announced the new companies law will allow new types of companies to be established. This will include simple joint stock companies who will have the characteristics of a joint stock company but will have flexibility in capital formation and issuing new types of shares. There will be also other types of companies. This will include two parties where one is a joint partner who will be personally responsible for their money and another who is a shareholder.
Saudi Arabia’s Enforcement Courts will start allocating judicial liquidations exclusively to the Entrustment and Liquidation Centre. It follows the signing of an agreement between the Justice Ministry and infath. It identifies the scope of activities to be covered and provides the necessary governance and accountability measures for fulfilling rights in a timely way. infath will be able to commission qualified and licensed private sector companies to participate competitively in the Liquidation Activities under the Centre’s supervision. Interested parties in in local and international licensed companies in chartered accounting, law and legal services, evaluation, engineering advisory, judicial custody, property management, treasury, marketing and sales companies can register at infath.sa. Infath will then evaluate and assign each case to suitable service providers based on their experience and the nature of the asset.