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Saudi Crown Prince calls billionaire shakedown in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton a lucrative success

Published: February 4, 2019
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Source: RT

A total of about $107 billion has been recovered as a result of the detention of scores of Saudi royals and businessmen in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in 2017, according to the kingdom’s anti-corruption commission.

It said the assets collected from the 87 detainees came in a mix of cash, real estate, companies, and securities. The commission, which was headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), referred more than 60 people to prosecution, saying that 56 of them had “other criminal cases against them.” Eight other people “refused to settle despite the existence of evidence against them, and they were referred to the public prosecutor.”

MBS, who called the anti-corruption campaign a “shock therapy,” has declared it a lucrative success. He told Bloomberg earlier that $35 billion had been collected from the prisoners.

His announcements come as one of the prisoners, Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi, was freed last Sunday after being held in an undisclosed location on bribery and corruption charges.

Among those released within the past few weeks were philanthropist and former government minister Amr Al-Dabbagh; former McKinsey & Co. partner Hani Khoja; and Sami Baroum, an ex-managing director of one of the kingdom’s biggest food companies.

Saudi authorities constrained post-prison life for many of those targeted with travel bans and heightened surveillance within the country.

Two years ago, the swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Saudi capital was turned into a prison for the royal elite accused by the ruling regime of corruption. Hundreds of people, including businessmen, officials, and 17 princes were arrested as part of the purge which reportedly aimed to recoup as much as $100 billion from them. Some detainees were reportedly tortured, a claim which the authorities have denied.

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Saudi Arabia has ended a sprawling crackdown on corruption ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that it said had recovered more than $106 billion through settlements with scores of senior princes, ministers and top businessmen. Under the surprise campaign launched in November 2017, the government summoned 381 people, some as witnesses, and reached settlements with 87 people who confessed to the charges against them, the royal court said in a statement. Reclaimed assets included real estate, companies, and cash.

Saudi media sources yesterday confirmed the release of all detainees held on corruption charges at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the capital Riyadh. Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman is reported to have raised $106 billion from the purge. Assets handed over to the state include real estate, commercial entities, securities and cash, said Attorney-General Sheikh Saud Al-Mujib according to the Financial Times.

Saudi Arabia’s authorities have released a number of detained royals allegedly involved in corruption in public office. The move came after a settlement was agreed with the suspects, the daily Okaz reported yesterday. The pro-government newspaper added that the detainees, who had been held in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, included a serving minister and a former head of a major company. It did not disclose any names.

A senior Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah has been released in Riyadh after more than three weeks in detention. He was one of more than 200 princes, ministers and businessmen arrested in what the kingdom has called an “anti-corruption purge.”

As we noted shortly after the Crown Prince’s purge of potential rivals within Saudi Arabia’s sprawling ruling family, while the dozens of arrests were made under the pretext of an "anti-corruption crackdown", Mohammed bin Salman’s ulterior motive was something else entirely: Replenishing the Kingdom’s depleted foreign reserves, which have been hammered for the past three years by low oil prices, with some estimating that the current purge could potentially bring in up to $800 billion in proceeds.

Earlier today, when discussing the Saudi bank account and asset freeze (and confiscation) of dozens of princes and ministers, we said that just the haul of billionaire prince Alwaleed's $19 billion in various holdings, including nearly a billion dollars in jewelry, plans, yachts, furniture and cash...

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