Saudi anti-corruption drive generates $106bn

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A sweeping anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia has generated an estimated $106.7bn (£75.6bn) in settlements, the kingdom’s attorney general has said.

Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said 56 of the 381 people called in for questioning since 4 November remained in custody.

The others had been cleared or admitted guilt and handed over properties, cash, securities and other assets, he added.

Sheikh Mojeb did not name any of those involved, but they reportedly include princes, ministers and businessmen.

In recent days, the billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Alwalid al-Ibrahim, owner of the Arab satellite television network MBC, were released from detention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter.

Both men insisted they were innocent, but Saudi official sources said they had agreed to financial settlements after admitting unspecified “violations”.

Others known to have been freed include Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah who sources said had handed over more than $1bn in assets; and state minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, who was reportedly cleared of any wrongdoing.

Sheikh Mojeb said he had “refused to settle” with the 56 individuals still being detained “due to other pending criminal cases, or in order to continue the investigation process”.

They are believed to have been transferred to prison from the Ritz-Carlton, which will reopen to the public next month.

Last week, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said the money recovered through the settlements would be used to fund a $13.3bn programme to help Saudi citizens cope with the rising cost of living.

The anti-corruption drive is being spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of King Salman, who has rejected as “ludicrous” analysts’ suggestions that it is a power grab. He said many of those detained had pledged allegiance to him since he became heir apparent in June.

 

Source: BBC

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