Saudi anti-corruption purge: All the latest updates

All the latest updates following the establishment of a new anti-corruption committee in Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed bin Salman

Here are the latest developments since Saudi Arabia began a new “anti-corruption” purge:

  • Saudi has completed main wave of arrests. The country is preparing to channel billions of dollars of seized funds into economic development projects, a Saudi minister said on Monday.

  • A special Ministry of Finance account has been opened to receive such funds, which the public prosecutor’s office has estimated should eventually total between $50bn and $100bn, Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi said.

  • Saudi prince freed in $1bn settlement. Senior Saudi Arabian prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, has been freed after agreeing to pay over $1bn to settle corruption allegations against him, on Tuesday. 
  • Saudi prince detention holds up loan. Kingdom Holding’s plan to borrow money to fund new investments has stalled because owner Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been detained in Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption crackdown, according to four banking sources familiar with the matter.
  • One of the sources, who was approached for the loan, said it would have been worth roughly 5bn riyals ($1.3bn).

  • Saudi Arabia striking deals with people held. Saudi authorities are striking agreements with some of those held, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom, Reuters reported.

  • Saudi UN envoy: Detainees to get due process. Speaking at a press conference at UN headquarters in New York on Monday, Abdallah al-Mouallim assured that the detainees would be granted due process.

  • Kuwait banks told to examine Saudi accounts. Kuwaiti banks have been told by the central bank to provide account details relating to some Saudi Arabian nationals, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Monday.

  • Some banks in Bahrain had also been asked to provide information on any accounts held by Saudi citizens caught up in the anti-graft campaign.

  • Credit risk surges in Saudi Arabia. The cost of insuring debt in Saudi Arabia is at a 22-month high, according to data published by Bloomberg on Sunday.

  • Report alleges detainees injury. Citing sources close to Saudi Arabia’s royal court, Middle East Eye reported on Sunday that some of the Saudi royals detained have been hospitalised.

  • World Bank applauds fighting corruption. Hafez Ghanem, vice president of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa told Arab News on Saturday that fighting corruption is important for development in Saudi Arabia.

  • Ghanem, however, declined to comment on specific legal proceedings in the Kingdom.

  • Fake photos of detained royals. Photos shared on social media of Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal and other royals detained in the anti-corruption purge appeared to be mockups for an upcoming TV show.

  • Tillerson concerned over Saudi purge. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent political purge raises concerns and remains unclear but does not appear to amount to mass arrests, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday.

  • “It raises a few concerns until we see more clearly how these particular individuals are dealt with,” Tillerson added.

  • GCC stock markets tankTotal market capitalisation for the region has fallen to its lowest level since 2016, as per Bloomberg’s data published on Friday.

  • King Salman appoints more judges. Saudi Arabia’s king issued a royal order on Thursday to appoint and promote 50 judges at the Board of Grievances, the state news agency SPA said.   

  • Tillerson speaks to al-Jubeir. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir about the situation in Saudi Arabia, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Thursday.

  • Seven released without charge. Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement on Thursday that seven people were released without charge, while 201 people remain detained.

  • Al-Mojeb also said: “To ensure individuals enjoy full legal rights under Saudi law, no more personal info to be revealed at this time.”

  • King Salman appoints new judges. Saudi Arabia’s king issued a royal order on Thursday that promoted 26 judges and appointed 30 others at different levels of the judiciary, the state news agency SPA said.

  • UAE central bank calls for account details. Citing a central bank notice seen by the Financial Times, FT reported on Thursday that the United Arab Emirates central bank has called on banks to provide information on accounts, deposits and transfers related to the 19 Saudis implicated in the anti-corruption crackdown.

  • Talal praised MBS before purge. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi told Deutsche Welle on Wednesday that detained Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal contacted him just days before being arrested.

  • According to Khashoggi, Bin Talal praised Mohamed bin Salman’s vision and invited him to come back to the Kingdom and be part of it.

  • Saudi Arabia makes new arrests. A number of other individuals suspected of wrongdoing were arrested on Wednesday in an expansion of the crackdown, Reuters reported.

  • Others under scrutiny are being telephoned by investigators about their finances but appear to remain at liberty, one of the sources said.
  • Saudi’s stock market continue to fall. Saudi Arabia’s stock market continued to fall in early trade on Wednesday. 
  • Saudi Arabia reassures investors. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment issued a statement on Tuesday reassuring investors that the sweeping arrests would not affect businesses.
  • “The rights of individuals and legal entities, public funds, and private companies and institutions, including those owned by some of the accused and detainees,” the statement reads.

  • The sources also claimed that the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority sent a list with hundreds of names to lenders, telling them to freeze any accounts linked to them.

  • Trump welcomes Saudi arrests. US President Donald Trump expressed “great confidence” in Saudi leaders on Monday. “They know exactly what they are doing,” Trump tweeted.

  • Anti-corruption probe widens. Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, the founder of Al Tayyar Travel is reportedly arrested in an investigation by the new corruption body.

  • According to Reuters news agency, Al Tayyar Travel, one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest travel companies, said in a statement: ” The company confirms the continuation of its business to serve the interests of its shareholders and customers.”

  • Houthis offer asylum to Saudi princes. Houthi rebels said on Sunday that they are willing to offer Saudi Princes political asylum in Yemen. 

  • Saudi Arabia princes arrested. Saudi Arabia dismisses a number of senior ministers and arrested nearly a dozen princes in an investigation by a new anti-corruption committee.

  • In a statement  released by the official Saudi news agency SPA, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud alludes to the “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to illicitly accrue money” for the creation of the anti-graft committee.

  • The body has the power to issue arrest warrants and “prevent their remittance or transfer by persons and entities, whatever they might be”, according to the statement.

  • Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the economy minister were among those held.

Source: Al Jazeera