Eight people remain detained in Saudi corruption crackdown, Crown Prince says

Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, in New York, in March 2018.
Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, in New York, in March 2018. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG/JEENAH MOON

ABU DHABI (REUTERS) - Eight people detained in Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption campaign remain in custody, the kingdom's Crown Prince said, after scores were arrested in a purge launched last November.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman said US$35 billion (S$48 billion), split between 40 per cent cash and 60 per cent assets, had been transferred to the government so far out of an expected US$100 billion.

"We think it will complete in the next maybe two years," he said in a Bloomberg interview published on Friday (Oct 5).

Saudi Arabia's attorney-general said in January that the total number of subpoenaed individuals had reached 381, with 56 remaining in custody for possible trial.

Settlements, like that reached by billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, had generated an estimated 400 billion riyal (S$147 billion), the attorney-general said at the time.

Foreign and local investors have long complained about corruption, and confronting it is an important part of reforms unveiled by Prince Mohammed to transform the country and reduce the economy's reliance on oil exports.

Yet some business leaders were unsettled by the swoop on top princes, businessmen and government officials because of the secrecy around the crackdown and their suspicions that it was at least partly politically motivated.