Saudi Arab

Saudi prosecutor launches probes into alleged graft cases

A Saudi official says the public prosecutor has begun investigations into alleged corruption cases involving detained princes and businessmen who have not reached settlements with the government.

Saud al-Hamad, deputy attorney general for investigations, told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday that those charged will be referred to court for prosecution on charges of money laundering or terrorism.

He also complained that some of the high-profile Saudi figures under investigation had failed to respect confidential agreements while others committed further, unspecified, offenses.

Hundreds of influential Saudi businessmen and members of the royal family were rounded up in November 2017 in an alleged “anti-corruption campaign” spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Observers said the campaign was actually meant to consolidate bin Salman’s power and silence his critics. There have been reports of the senior Saudi figures being beaten and tortured while in custody at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the capital, Riyadh.

The purge sent shockwaves through Saudi markets, with reports saying many billionaires moved their assets out of the region to avoid getting caught up in the crackdown.

The Riyadh regime then began securing cash settlement deals with the detainees, receiving hefty amounts in exchange for their freedom.

In a statement in January, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said out of 381 people originally detained in the crackdown, 56 remained in custody.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal , who ranks among the richest men in the world, was released in January around two months after his arrest. He refused to divulge the terms of his release.

However, the Kingdom Holding Company, run by bin Talal, said in a bourse filing late last month that the billionaire prince had given up full entitlement of his share of proposed annual cash distributions.

“Prince al-Waleed gave up his full entitlement of his share of the proposed annual cash distributions, which totaled … 8.50 halalas per share (or) 299.2 million Saudi riyals ($79.8 million) quarterly,” it said.

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