Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes in anti-corruption sweep

06 November, 2017, 01:51 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Passersby walk past an electronic board showing market indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said that "11 princes, tens of former ministers and four current ministers were arrested", but it did not disclose any names.

The arrests came a few hours after the king replaced the minister in charge of the Saudi national guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who controlled the last of the three Saudi armed forces not yet considered to be under control of the crown prince.

Dozens of Saudi government officials and businessmen have been detained in an anti-corruption crackdown, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom's most prominent tycoons.

"The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable", the royal decree said. "The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen".

King Salman ordered the new anti-corruption campaign as part of an "active reform agenda aimed at tackling a persistent problem that has hindered development efforts in the Kingdom in recent decades", a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Communications said.

Saudi officials described Saturday's arrests as the result of an investigation by a newly created anti-corruption committee. One of the world's richest men, Alwaleed has significant equity holdings in several US technology companies, as well as stakes in Saudi companies across the real estate, retail and petrochemical industries.

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The royal purge was foreshadowed by Saturday's evacuation of the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where the detainees are now housed, according to The New York Times.

The arrest of Alwaleed and other royals further clears a path to power for the rising crown prince, who in June ousted his elder cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as interior minister and heir to the Saudi throne.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah: The former head of the Saudi National Guard, which will now be headed by Prince Khalid bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin, was the most favoured son of the late King Abdullah.

President Donald Trump's administration has cheered Crown Price Mohammed's rise while touting the young royal as a forward-thinking economic and social reformer.

His investment firm Kingdom Holding - whose share price plunged 10 per cent on Sunday in response to news of his detention - recently bought about half of a 31.1 per cent stake in Saudi lender Banque Saudi Fransi from France's Credit Agricole.

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