Saudi Arabia Released Some Corruption Detainees, Others to Stand Trial
The Saudi suspects have been held at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel since early November
Saudi Arabia has released 23 of the 200 powerful individuals detained since November on corruption charges after they reached deals with the government, Okaz newspaper reported Tuesday.
The report did not name those involved in what appeared to be the 1st large-scale release since the royals, business people and government officials were detained in a crackdown spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The suspects have been held at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel since early November and told to hand over assets and cash in exchange for their freedom.
Okaz said more detainees would be released in the coming days and trial proceedings would begin soon for those who continue to deny the charges against them.
Saudi authorities see the settlements as an obligation to reimburse money taken illegally from the world’s top Crude Oil producer over several decades.
Video posted on social media showed a smiling Saoud Al Daweesh, the former CEO of Saudi Telcom, telling well-wishers he had been treated decently.
“Private Affairs, a unit of the Royal Court, brought us a full lamb dish day and night. They treated us well and did a good job,” he said.
Sabih al Masri, a Palestinian billionaire and Jordan’s most influential businessman, was released after several days of detention in Saudi Arabia, the latest in a series of events marking the crackdown on the rich and powerful in the country.
Mr. Masri, the Chairman of Amman-based Arab Bank, the country’s largest lender, was detained last Tuesday hours before he was planning to leave after chairing meetings of companies he owns, sources said.
He said Sunday Saudi authorities had given him “all respect”.
Sources familiar with the case said he was questioned about his links to Saudi partners among the royals, ministers and officials who were rounded up in last month’s crackdown.
At the end of November Prince Mutaib Bin Abdullah, the son of the late King Abdullah, a former head of Saudi Arabia’s national guard and a previous frontrunner to the throne was released for a price of $1-B.
After weeks of silence surrounding the fate of Saudi Arabia’s richest man, Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal, 62 anni, arrested last month in an anti-corruption purge, HeffX-LTN has learned the authorities in the Saudi Kingdom are seeking at least $6-B for his release.
The head of the Kingdom Holding Co. was rounded up with over 200 Saudi government officials and members of the Kingdom’s royal family as part of a probe spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, 32 anni.
The WS-J reported that the $6-B being sought by Saudi officials is the highest figures they have demanded for those arrested.
Forbes has estimated Prince Bin Talal’s fortune at $18.7-B, but the Prince has reportedly indicated that handing over $6-B would amount to an admission of guilt, requiring him to dismantle the financial empire that has been his life’s work.
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman said last month that some 10% of government funds had been siphoned off by corruption each year since Y 1980 until today. Roughly $100-B is set to be recovered in settlements.
Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment.
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