World Saudi anti-corruption drive nets $106bn

15:52  30 january  2018
15:52  30 january  2018 Source:   bbc.com

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Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel (30 January 2018): The high-profile figures were detained at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel © Reuters The high-profile figures were detained at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel A sweeping anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia has generated an estimated $106.7bn (£755.6m) 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.

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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.

What's next in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's corruption probe, reform efforts? .
When billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal on Saturday stepped out of the swanky Riyadh Ritz-Carlton -- where he had been detained for nearly three months as part of a wide-ranging and unprecedented corruption probe -- the 62-year-old walked into a kingdom in the midst of transformation. Alwaleed was swept up in November, along with 350 other princes, business leaders, ministers and military officers, as part of a crackdown that's so far netted the government $100 billion from numerous sticky-fingered royal elites, Reuters reported Tuesday.

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