Saudi Arabia blackmailing detained princes to fill state coffers: Report
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2017-11-17 02:21:22

Saudi Arabia blackmailing detained princes to fill state coffers: Report

 

A new report says Saudi Arabia has offered deals to detained princes and businessmen to fill depleted state coffers.

According to a report published in The Financial Time on Thursday, Saudi authorities were negotiating settlements with individuals held over allegations of corruption at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.

The report quoting people close to the negotiations said that some of the suspects were keen to secure their release by signing over cash and corporate assets.

“They are making settlements with most of those in the Ritz,” said one adviser, adding, “Cough up the cash and you will go home.”

People briefed on the discussions said one detained multi-billionaire businessman has been told to hand over 70 percent of his wealth to the state. One of his advisers said that he was inclined to pay.

Settlements for royals are likely to also include pledges of loyalty to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Another detainee has told his staff that the authorities may be looking to take ownership of his main business.

“They are looking for ways to isolate the tainted shareholder and keep the business going,” said the adviser.

Earlier this month, dozens of princes, ministers and former ministers were detained on the order of Saudi Arabia’s so-called Anti-Corruption Committee headed by the crown prince, in a crackdown, which is widely believed to be aimed at consolidating his power.

The detained individuals are facing allegations of money laundering, bribery, extorting officials and misappropriation of public funds for personal benefits.

Prince al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, the chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding Company, Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar, the founder of Al Tayyar Travel Group, and Amr al-Dabbagh, the chairman of builder Red Sea International, are among the top business executives detained during the purge.

More arrests are likely as the government widens its graft probe.

The settlements come at a time when the Riyadh regime is grappling with a recession triggered by prolonged low oil prices and a budget deficit of $79bn last year.

The attorney general has said he is investigating allegations of corruption amounting to at least $100bn. The government wants to take back at least that figure, though the target may rise to as much as $300bn.

This comes as Saudi King Salman plans to relinquish power in favor of his son who is pursuing a self-promotion campaign under the cover of tackling high-level corruption.

Pundits believe the targeting of Saudi Arabia’s long-standing elite represents a shift from family rule to a more authoritarian style of governance based on a single man.

The kingdom is currently struggling with plummeting oil prices as the Al Saud regime also faces criticism over its deadly military campaign against neighboring Yemen, which it launched in March 2015.

Many also see Riyadh’s policies as a major cause of the crises unfolding in the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

Categories:   Middle East ،
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