He acknowledges that the dollar figure will seem outrageous to most – well above what a typical senior official working for the Canadian government earns.
But business in Saudi Arabia is done differently, he says.
There is “nothing abnormal” about it.
In a recent court case, Saad Aljabri, the former senior Saudi intelligence official now in exile in Toronto, gave his most comprehensive defense to date against the allegations of fraud and embezzlement against him, insisting that the wealth he accumulated before fleeing to Canada – in the hundreds of millions of dollars – was booming.
Aljabri came to the world’s attention last year when he filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, alleging he was the target of a failed assassination plot orchestrated by Mohammed. bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. Aljabri alleged that a group of hitmen – a tiger squad – was deployed just days after the brutal death in 2018 of prominent Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
Earlier this year, a group of Saudi companies owned by the Public Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund controlled by the crown prince, filed a separate lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court.
He alleged that Aljabri used his high-ranking position in government to set up the companies “ostensibly to carry out counterterrorism activities”, ensuring that these companies received funding from the state and then paid billions of dollars to the government. himself, his family and his friends.
The lawsuit alleges that the fraud scheme took place from 2008 to 2017 and that the embezzled funds are hidden around the world.
It is alleged that one of the companies, Sakab Saudi Holding Company, “had no operational activity” despite the US $ 8 billion funding received by the government and was used “almost exclusively” as a means to channel money to other companies, which have carried out legitimate transactions. business, as well as to Aljabri and his accomplices.
In an affidavit filed on June 30, Aljabri admitted that between 2000 and 2017 he received “significant remuneration, awards and bonuses for my work for the government of Saudi Arabia.”
Although he does not have access to his archives in the kingdom, he estimated the amount at US $ 385 million. from 2008 to 2017.
“I understand that number far exceeds what a senior Canadian official could be paid,” he said in his affidavit. “However, these payments must be seen in the context of the practice of customary royal patronage within the Saudi government, where the absolute monarch is also the head of state and officials are generously rewarded for their service and loyalty, for amounts that significantly exceed official public salaries.
Aljabri says his “main boss” during his tenure in government was Mohammed bin Nayef, a rival of bin Salman in a bid for the throne and who was ousted by bin Salman in a palace coup in June 2017 .
“Bin Nayef started giving me patronage not long after I started working with him at the (interior ministry) in 1999,” Aljabri said.
“I do not accept that these payments are linked in any way to the Sakab companies. It was an extension of my payments that started in 2000, long before the creation of Sakab. The amounts of these payments increased over time as bin Nayef’s influence and wealth increased. … Bin Nayef had vast personal wealth unrelated to the Sakab societies. After the king, he was the oldest member of the House of Saud, one of the richest families (if not the richest family) in the world.
Aljabri added that in addition to the money that bin Nayef personally paid him, bin Nayef also ordered some of the companies to send him payments as compensation “for the official duties I performed for bin Nayef. within the framework of the activities (of the ministry) and the fight against terrorism. with our international partners.
“There is nothing unusual or unusual about the payments I have received,” he said.
Aljabri said he worked closely with bin Nayef to develop counterterrorism strategies that made a difference.
“We developed an approach based on the theory that extremism was a form of brainwashing that could be combated through rehabilitation. We have provided financial support to the families of terrorists who have been detained or killed in recognition that these families were also victims and to prevent further radicalization. We have modernized Saudi security and intelligence agencies and increased information sharing and cooperation with our Western counterparts, ”he said.
“We have used and developed modern technologies and data mining solutions to thwart terrorist plots and reduce the incidence of false alarms. We overhauled the entire counterterrorism infrastructure, acquired new tools and equipment, and improved the level of training of counterterrorism personnel.
In a separate court file last month in the U.S. case, which bin Salman seeks to dismiss, Philip Mudd, a former FBI deputy director of national security and CNN counterterrorism analyst, filed a statement with the court saying that after the September 11 terrorist attacks, as the United States faced persistent terrorist threats, Aljabri was “essential in turning the tide for the United States and saving American lives.”
“Within the US intelligence community, Dr Saad is deeply respected and respected, and his reputation has lived on long after he left the Saudi government,” Mudd said.
“For this reason, Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to kill Dr. Saad would (and have caused) harm to the United States by denying them access to a close partner with unique knowledge. “