S Arabia's anti-graft drive ends; $106b recovered | The Daily Star
12:32 AM, February 01, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:33 AM, February 01, 2019

S Arabia's anti-graft drive ends; $106b recovered

Saudi Arabia has ended a sweeping crackdown on corruption ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that it said had recovered more than $106 billion through settlements with scores of senior princes, ministers and top businessmen.

A royal court said in a statement on Wednesday authorities had summoned 381 people, some as witnesses, under the campaign launched in November 2017, but it provided no names.

It said 87 people confessed to charges against them and reached settlements that included the forfeiture of real estate, companies, cash and other assets.

The campaign ended as abruptly as it began, despite speculation in the business community that a new round of arrests was imminent.

The public prosecutor refused to settle the cases of 56 people due to existing criminal charges against them. Eight more who declined settlement offers stand accused of corruption, the court said.

Detainees who were not indicted were freed, but it was unclear when travel bans, bank freezes and electronic monitoring of at least some of those released earlier would end.

For the first three months of the campaign, many members of the kingdom's economic and political elite were held in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, with some later moved to a prison.

Some detainees were reportedly tortured, which the authorities have denied.

Critics called it a shakedown and power play by Prince Mohammed. It unsettled some foreign investors that he is courting to diversify the economy away from oil.

The figures released on Wednesday were little different from those the government announced in its last update, exactly one year earlier.

Only a month ago, the finance minister told Reuters the authorities had collected some $13 billion from settlements in 2018 and expected a similar amount this year.

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