01/25/2018, 09.42
SAUDI ARABIA
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Riyadh, anti-corruption purges: 95 people still in custody

For over three months, former ministers, businessmen and members of royal families have been detained. Another 200 people under investigation. Majority of arrested paid a large sum of money for release. The money used to finance plans to help the population.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - After more than three months, the Saudi authorities still keep at least 95 leading figures in custody, arrested in the context of a massive anti-corruption campaign launched by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Another 200 people are under investigation and are being questioned, all belonging to prominent families of the country or exponents of the [former] leadership in power.

According to critics, the anti-corruption campaign launched by the wahhabite ultraconservative kingdom masks a purge of rival families, to consolidate power. In total, according to the Saudi network a-Arabiya, more than 350 people - including princes, ministers, former ministers and powerful businessmen - are in detention.

At first the arrested were locked up inside the suites of the famous Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, in the capital. In recent weeks, people still in custody have been transferred to prison and the hotel has been able to reopen to the public.

Last month, Saudi Arabia's attorney general Cheikh Saoud al-Mojeb announced that the majority of those arrested had agreed to pay a huge cash contribution to the coffers of the country, in exchange for their release. According to the Treasury authorities, the sums would correspond to the money previously stolen fraudulently by the arrested persons for a total sum of about 100 billion dollars.

The majority of those arrested accepted the transaction by paying "cash, real estate and other possessions" in exchange for their release. On the other hand, at least 95 people are still under arrest and locked up in jail.

The money recovered from the government is supposed to be reinvested to finance a million-dollar aid plan for the population, in difficulty because of the progressive increase in the cost of living and the cuts in state subsidies.

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