The former ceo of Banque Saudi Fransi held in saudi Arabia, according to several sources


by Tom Arnold

DUBAI (Reuters) – Patrice Couvègnes, former director general of Banque Saudi Fransi (BSF), is now almost six months forbidden to leave saudi territory after the opening of an investigation on the awarding of bonus illegal, according to four sources aware of the folder.

The French banker has been landed of OSB, the fifth saudi bank by assets, in November in coordination with the central bank and other bodies of guardianship.

At the time, the central bank had highlighted irregularities in a program of premiums and violations related to the governance and monitoring obligations. OSB, held to 16.2% by Kingdom Holding, the investment company of prince Alwalid bin Talal, and about 15% by Credit Agricole , had admitted to irregularities in the bonuses that led to the violations.

Patrice Couvègnes, who has directed BSF for six years, has been served in this context, a prohibition to leave the territory, according to sources.

He was not able to reached for comment. The central bank saudi arabia and Banque Saudi Fransi, also solicited, have not given result.

Two other senior officers of BSF, Mohamad Abdoulhadi and Abdulrahman Moutabagani, had left the facility in October. At the time a spokesman for the bank had indicated that Abdoulhadi had retired but sources have told Reuters that these two departures were also linked to the investigation.

Abdoulhadi and Moutabagani could not be reached for comment.

OSB had revealed the discovery of embezzlement in October, indicating that its board of directors had appointed an independent team to investigate suspicions of unlawful payments of premiums. Two months later, the bank said coordinate its efforts with the authorities to recover the amounts illegally collected. Reuters could not determine if the investigation is ongoing or closed.

The crown prince of saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has launched last year a wide campaign against corruption, arresting in November, dozens of members of the royal family but also senior officials and businessmen. Most, including prince Alwalid, were released after having negotiated financial arrangements with the authority.

Prior to joining OSB, Patrice Couvègnes has worked for Credit Agricole (PA:CAGR) Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, according to his curriculum presented on the internet.

The French bank has transferred last year half of its stake in OSB Kingdom Holding, reducing its share to approximately 15% in a saudi arabian bank.

(with the contribution of Stephen Kalin in Riyadh, Véronique Tison for the French service)

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