Riyadh, November 10: Saudi Arabia continues to take stringent action against corruption and allegedly corrupted ones. After arresting 11 princes, 4 ministers and a number of former government ministers last week, Saudi Arabian officials have summoned more than 200 people as a part of an investigation related to the corruption involved in Jeddah floods and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus case.
At least 208 individuals had been called in for questioning as a part of an investigation related to the corruption involved in Jeddah floods and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus case. The officials have also announced that it will confiscate money and assets, running into $300billion held by dozens of top officials and businessmen detained in an anti-corruption crackdown.
The Kingdom’s attorney general Saud Mojeb issued a statement and said that a total of 208 individuals had been called in for questioning, with all but seven of them placed in detention. “Those caught up in an unprecedented crackdown that began in earnest over the past weekend include tycoons, VIPs and some members of the Saudi royal family,” he added.
Saud Mojeb further said, “We estimate that at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.” “Normal commercial activity in the kingdom is not affected by these investigations and companies and banks are free to continue with transactions as usual,” he concluded.
On the other side, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as spoken to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir about the situation in Saudi Arabia, where a crackdown on corruption has led to dozens of arrests.
Earlier, the newly made anti-corruption committee headed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday evening arrested at least 11 princes, 4 ministers and a number of former government ministers as it is re-examining the corruption involved in 2009 Jeddah floods and investigating the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus, which emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, top security official Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, chairman of the Saudi Binladin construction group Bakr bin Laden, the owner of the MBC television network Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, Khaled Tuweijri, AlWalid Ibrahim, Turki Bin Naser, Adel Fakih were amongst those arrested by Saudi Arabia authorities.
The committee after arresting prominent leaders said it is relaunching a probe into the devastating floods that killed over 120 people in the city of Jeddah in 2009 while inflicting millions in property damage. In wake of the wide-ranging investigation, concluded in December 2014, the Saudi court found 45 people guilty, including senior officials, on charges of bribery, misuse of power and public funds, money laundering and illicit business operations.
Another high-profile case resumed by the anti-corruption committee is the investigation into the outbreak of the so-called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in Saudi Arabia in 2014, which resulted in nearly 300 deaths and the ouster of the country’s health minister.
Importantly, the arrests came hours after the new anti-corruption committee was formed. The panel is tasked with identifying 'offenses, crimes, persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption'. King Salman decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by his 32-year-old son Prince Mohammed. King Salman while creating this new anti-corruption committee said, “The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable.”
On the other side, the analysts said that the goal of the purge went beyond corruption and aimed to remove potential opposition to Prince Mohammed as he pushes an ambitious and controversial reform agenda.