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Saudi CMA fines two for manipulating stocks

Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, chairman of Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority SPA
Mohammed El-Kuwaiz, chairman of Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority
  • Pair fined over social media posts
  • Attempt to manipulate 17 stock prices
  • Crackdown on corruption continues

Saudi Arabia’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has fined two Saudi men SAR11.1 million ($3 million) for manipulating the price of 17 stocks through posts on the social media platform X . 

Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Mohammed Alharbi and Nawaf bin Mohammed bin Jam’an Alsukhaiber Alharbi used X, formerly known as Twitter, to encourage investors into and out of the stocks, including Bank Aljazira, from 2019 to 2021, according to the CMA. 

The bulk of the fine, SAR10.6 million, was given to the second man, whose X account, titled Building Wealth and describing him as a flight trainer, advocates “financial freedom”. 

“The CMA stresses the importance of investors’ confidence in the capital market for its growth and prosperity,” a statement said, adding that the ruling by a CMA tribunal was final. 

The fines are part of a continuing crackdown on corruption in the kingdom. In May the CMA fined five investors and one company almost SAR5 million ($1.3 million) for insider trading and other capital market law violations. 

Saudi authorities have been on a drive to stamp out corruption, including in the kingdom’s financial markets, as the country implements its Vision 2030 to diversify its revenue base. The plan includes regulatory reforms to attract investors to its debt and derivative markets.

In January, the Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority arrested the head of the Royal Commission for AlUla, a flagship tourism project in northwest Saudi Arabia, for “abuse of influence and money laundering”.

A whistleblower law was also approved in February offering protection for reporting suspected cases, though critics say more assurances are needed.

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