Saudi Ara­bia seizes more than $100bn in set­tle­ments

The Miracle - - Ational & Int -

Saudi Ara­bia’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral Sheikh Saud al-Mo­jeb said that the king­dom has seized more than $100bn in anti-cor­rup­tion set­tle­ments. The amount - SAR400bn ($106.7bn) - rep­re­sented var­i­ous types of as­sets, in­clud­ing real es­tate, com­mer­cial en­ti­ties, cash and more, Mo­jeb said in a state­ment re­leased by the govern­ment’s in­for­ma­tion of­fice on Tues­day. He added that the to­tal num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als sum­moned for ques­tion­ing reached 381, while 65 re­mained in cus­tody as part of a na­tion­wide “anti-cor­rup­tion purge”. The state­ment came as Saudi au­thor­i­ties re­leased all re­main­ing de­tainees from the Ritz-Carl­ton ho­tel, after more than two months of de­ten­tion on al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion. “There are no longer any de­tainees left at the Ritz-Carl­ton,” a Saudi of­fi­cial told Reuters News Agency ear­lier on Tues­day. Dozens of royal fam­ily mem­bers, min­is­ters, and top busi­ness­men were ar­rested in early Novem­ber dur­ing an “anti-cor­rup­tion crack­down” launched by Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man. Al­le­ga­tions against those de­tained in­cluded money laun­der­ing, bribery, ex­tort­ing of­fi­cials. Those ar­rested were held col­lec­tively in the coun­try’s Ritz-Car­ton ho­tel. Mean­while, the ho­tel was closed to nor­mal busi­ness. On Satur­day, prom­i­nent Saudi busi­ness­man Prince Al­waleed bin Talal was re­leased as signs of the purge ap­peared to be wind­ing down. Prince Al­waleed said dur­ing an exclusive Reuters in­ter­view that there were “no charges” against him. The crack­down, which came about via a royal de­cree in Novem­ber 2017, was in re­sponse to “ex­ploita- tion by some of the weak souls who have put their own in­ter­ests above the pub­lic in­ter­est, in or­der to il­lic­itly ac­crue money”. Mahjoob Zweiri, a Doha-based pro­fes­sor of con­tem­po­rary Arab pol­i­tics, said that the purge is part of Mo­hammed bin Sal­man’s plan to con­sol­i­date eco­nomic, as well as po­lit­i­cal power in Saudi Ara­bia. “That re­quired de­stroy­ing other eco­nomic em­pires in Saudi Ara­bia,” he told Al Jazeera. Zweiri noted that the na­ture of charges against those who were de­tained re­mains un­clear, and that there may be more de­tails of cases re­vealed - but not in the near fu­ture. “There has been a case of mis­trust,” he said. “And the au­thor­i­ties will fol­low up [with those re­leased] to make sure no one is speak­ing about what hap­pened to main­tain the govern­ment’s nar­ra­tive of the story.” Ac­cord­ing to Zweiri, the purge was a warn­ing mes­sage, and only those who play the “pol­i­tics” and main­tain links to the monarch, will be able to con­duct busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties in the king­dom. “Again it’s about how well linked you are to the new es­tab­lish­ment. There is no ac­count­abil­ity … the cor­rup­tion will of course con­tinue - but in dif­fer­ent ways”.

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