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Court rules against Binladin Group in crane tragedy

A crane that collapsed into the Grand Mosque in Mecca Reuters
The crane toppled into the Grand Mosque during hajj in 2015, killing more than 100 people
  • SAR20m fine confirmed by Supreme Court
  • 8 company officials received prison terms
  • More than 100 people died in accident

The Saudi Supreme Court has affirmed a ruling against the Binladin Group, fining the construction company SAR20 million ($5.33 million) for a 2015 accident in which a crane collapsed in Mecca during the hajj pilgrimage season.

The court found that safety violations caused the deaths of more than 100 people.

The Okaz newspaper reported on August 13 that in closing the case with a final ruling – after Binladin Group objected to an earlier appeals court verdict – the Supreme Court also upheld sentences of three years in prison and fines for eight company officials.

The court acquitted three engineers and supervisors, and closed a case against one defendant who later died. 

The accident occurred during high winds in September 2015, and precipitated a dramatic decline in Binladin Group’s fortunes. King Salman ordered a year-long halt in state contracts to the group, formed in 1931 by the bin Laden family.

It had become a favoured builder as the country expanded with the 1970s oil boom. After an anti-corruption campaign launched in 2017, the government took a one-third stake from bin Laden family members in 2018 and established effective control over the board.

The company remains central to tourism and infrastructure projects as part of the Vision 2030 project to diversify the economy away from oil revenues. 

Last year the government appointed the financial advisory firm Rothschild to supervise restructuring of the group and reduce debt thought to be in the range of $20-$30 billion.

It remains a private conglomerate, not listed on the Saudi stock exchange.