Detained Saudis face investigations over corruption, prosecutor says





Cairo – Saudi individuals, who were detained over the weekend, were questioned as part of anti-corruption investigations in the oil-rich kingdom, Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said on Monday.



 
Saudi authorities reportedly arrested dozens of royals and former state officials on Saturday in a major crackdown in the oil-rich kingdom.
"A great deal of evidence has already been gathered, and detailed questioning has taken place," al-Mojeb said.
"Yesterday does not represent the start, but the completion of Phase One of our anti-corruption push," he said, adding that "it was necessary to complete the first phase discreetly" to prevent anyone from escaping investigations.
The arrests took place after Saudi King Salman ordered the creation of an anti-corruption committee headed by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed. The monarch has given the agency wide powers, including the issuance of arrest warrants, asset freezes and travel bans.
Al-Mojeb, also a member of the anti-corruption committee, said this is the beginning "of a vital process to root out corruption wherever it exists."
Another member of the committee, Khalid bin Abdulmohsen al-Mehaisen, said the detentions came after "three years of work" by Saudi anti-corruption authorities.
Neither officials confirmed the number or identities of those detained, yet, al-Mehaisen said "it involves influential officials and senior executives."
According to local Saudi media, 11 royals and 38 ex-officials and businessmen were detained in the sweep.
The officials reportedly face charges ranging from involvement in dubious business deals, money laundering, embezzlement of public money and mishandling state-owned enterprises for personal financial gain.
Earlier on Monday, two new ministers were sworn in, replacing two officials sacked ahead of the crackdown.
Prince Khaled bin Ayaf became the new head of the Saudi National Guard, replacing Prince Meteib bin Abdullah, a son of late Saudi king Abdullah.
The newly appointed economy and planning minister, Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, was also sworn in during the ceremony attended by King Salman, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Tuwaijri replaces Adel al-Faqieh, who was also dismissed on Saturday.
Among the royals facing investigation is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a business tycoon who has investments in 21st Century Fox, Twitter and Citigroup.
In a bid to reassure investors, his company, Kingdom Holding, said on Sunday it was aware of "various media reports regarding ... the company's chairman of the board," referring to Alwaleed.
It said it "reaffirms its full commitment to continue the company's work, its commitment to its investors and shareholders, and affirms the support of the government of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
Alwaleed, who is one of the world's richest persons, is allegedly facing charges of money laundering.
The clampdown is seen to be aimed at consolidating authority of the Saudi monarch, believed aged 82, and his young crown prince, some experts have said.
In June, Salman ousted his nephew as the crown prince and appointed his son Mohammed to become the first in line to succeed him.
The Saudi crown prince is seen as the driving force behind opening up the ultra-conservative country to the outside world and weaning its economy off oil.
Mohammed, 32, has vowed to fight corruption in Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

Monday, November 6th 2017
By Nehal El-Sherif,
           


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