Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) initiated a massive anti-corruption operation last year. Today, just as a Qatari delegation arrives in DC and concedes to the terms of the alliance, Reuters is reporting the resulting Saudi asset seizures total more than $106 billion.
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s government has arranged to seize more than $100 billion through financial settlements with businessmen and officials detained in its crackdown on corruption, the attorney general said on Tuesday.
The announcement appeared to represent a political victory for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who launched the purge last November and predicted at the time that it would net about $100 billion in settlements.
Dozens of top officials and businessmen were detained in the crackdown, many of them confined and interrogated at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Well over 100 detainees are believed to have been released.
Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, owner of global investor Kingdom Holding, and Waleed al-Ibrahim, who controls influential regional broadcaster MBC, were freed last weekend.
“The estimated value of settlements currently stands at more than 400 billion riyals ($106 billion) represented in various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets,” Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said in a statement.
[…] Some detainees are believed to have been moved from the hotel to prison after refusing to admit wrongdoing and reach financial settlements; they may stand trial.
[…] Prince Mohammed appears to have won widespread approval for the purge among ordinary Saudis, partly because the government has said it will use some of the money it seizes to fund social benefits.
“What has happened is great, it will be counted as a win for the government. Whoever the person is, he is being held accountable, whether a royal or a citizen,” said Abdullah al-Otaibi, drinking at a Riyadh coffee shop on Tuesday.
An international financier visiting the region said authorities’ tough approach might ultimately prove effective. (read more)
In related regional news, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted a delegation from Qatar to Washington DC.
Rex Tillerson: […] “The United States and Qatar will be signing three documents today outlining our cooperation in the important bilateral and regional areas mentioned, including three at this ceremony.
•The first is a memorandum of understanding that establishes the convention for this U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue on an annual basis going forward, so that we can continue to build on the close partnership between our two countries.
•The second document is a joint declaration outlining the United States cooperation with Qatar on matters of shared regional and security interests.
•The third document is a memorandum of understanding that creates a framework for the cooperation between the United States and Qatar to combat human trafficking.
I look forward to the outcomes of today’s inaugural U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue and our continued collaboration over the years to come. And with that, I’d welcome remarks from Foreign Minister al-Thani. (read more)
What does this mean? Qatar has conceded to terms:
ie. The Muslim Brotherhood has been brought to heel.