Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb informed that the kingdom has collected 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.
He further revealed that the number of individuals subjected to questioning touched 381, while 65 remained in custody as part of a nationwide “anti-corruption purge”.
The statement came after the authorities released all remaining detainees 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.
Saudi’s elite were taken into custody in an anti-corruption crackdown launched by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in November. Those arrested were held collectively in the country’s Ritz-Carton hotel. Meanwhile, the hotel was closed to normal business.
Meanwhile, prominent Saudi businessman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was also released by the authorities 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 “exploitation 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, claims that the crackdown is aimed at consolidating Mohammed bin Salman’s hold in Saudi Arabia. “That required destroying other economic empires in Saudi Arabia,” he told.
Zweiri stressed that there was no clear charges against the detainees, and 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”.