Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes in anti-corruption sweep

06 November, 2017, 02:24 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Both are sons of the late King Abdullah, who ruled before his half-brother King Salman.

Official justifications notwithstanding, the sweep was widely seen as as a move to consolidate power around Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne now occupied by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah has been relieved of his post as minister of the National Guard and replaced by Khaled bin Ayyaf, while Economy Minister Adel Fakieh is replaced by his deputy Mohammed al Tuwaijri.

. 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.

Earlier this year, the king removed Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as head of the interior ministry, placing him under house arrest and extending the crown prince's influence over the interior ministry's troops, which act as a second armed force. Eleven princes, four current ministers and tens of former ministers were detained as part of a crackdown on corruption.

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In addition to Prince Alwaleed, who is one of Saudi Arabia's best-known global businessmen as an investor in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter, those detained included Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the big Saudi Binladin construction group, and Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, owner of the MBC television network. Alwaleed also owns a roughly 5% stake in Twitter and substantial undisclosed stakes in Apple and Euro Disney.

Shares in Kingdom Holding plunged 9.9 per cent on Sunday morning.

The arrest of Prince Alwaleed - King Salman's nephew - comes as surprise.

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it established a "supreme committee" to investigate public corruption.

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The committee is also trying to find out how the state agencies handled the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus which has claimed hundreds of lives in the past few years.

In addition to locking down bank accounts, the Saudi government said it will seize any property linked to corruption charges.

Saudi officials described Saturday's arrests as the result of an investigation by a newly created anti-corruption committee.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's top council of clerics issued a statement saying it is an Islamic duty to fight corruption - essentially giving religious backing to the high-level arrests being reported.

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