Most People Detained in Saudi Anti-corruption Sweep Settled
- Saudi says most people detained in anti-corruption sweep have settled
People who refuse to settle are referred to the public prosecutor for additional investigation
Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said most of the people detained in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign launched last month have agreed to settlements to avoid prosecution while the rest could be held for months.
In a statement, the public prosecutor said a total of 320 people had been subpoenaed to provide information about alleged graft while 159 remain in detention and “a number” of them have been referred for judicial action.
Saudi security forces have rounded up members of the political and business elite, including princes and tycoons, holding them in Riyadh’s opulent Ritz Carlton hotel on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32 anni, in what was billed as a war on rampant corruption.
The purge has caused concern about damage to the economy especially among foreign investors the kingdom is seeking to attract to develop its economy away from Crude Oil.
But, the government has insisted it is respecting due process and that the companies of detained businessmen will continue operating normally.
The allegations, which could not be verified, include kickbacks, inflating government contracts, extortion and bribery.
A Saudi minister said last Monday that the main wave of arrests was over and the authorities were preparing to channel an estimated $50-$100-B of seized funds into economic development projects.
The 1st financial settlements were brokered last week with senior Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender for the throne, being freed after agreeing to pay over $1-B, officials said.
The public prosecutor said the anti-corruption committee headed by Prince Mohammed, the King’s favored son, aka MbS, was expected to finish the settlement phase within a few weeks.
“The Committee has followed internationally applied procedures by negotiating with the detainees and offering them a settlement that will facilitate recouping the State’s funds and assets, and eliminate the need for a prolonged litigation.”
Detainees are free to contact whomever they like and to reject any settlement offers, the statement said. Those who sign deals are recommended for pardon and an end to criminal litigation.
People who refuse to settle are referred to the public prosecutor for additional investigation and potential prosecution, the statement said. They can be held for up to six months with the possibility of court-ordered extension.
MbS said in an interview last month that about 1% of detainees were able to prove they are clean, 4% wanted to go to court and the rest had agreed to settle.
While some individuals have been identified like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Kingdom’s best known businessman, most remain unnamed.
The public prosecutor also said the bank accounts of 376 people in detention and others related remain frozen, down from over 2,000 a few weeks ago.
The arrest of royals and top business elite capped a frenetic period of almost 3 years of growing power by MbS who also oversees the defense and Oil strategy.
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