THE KINGDOM of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was created in 1932 from a region that had historically been the home of the spiritual and temporal rulers of Arabia and many of the holiest places in Islam. The traditional form of rule in KSA has been autocracy, with the appointed leader taking counsel from a variable group of elders and advisers, many of whom are drawn from the leader's family. Decisions and policies have been left deliberately opaque. This method extends not just to the government service but also to the private sector, in which many decisions are made on the basis of mutual connections or of family trust and, hence, not subject to wider scrutiny. This has led to many opportunities for corruption and white-collar crime.

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