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Saudi Arabia Swapping Assets for Freedom of Some Princes, Businessmen

Saudi Arabia Swapping Assets for Freedom of Some Princes, Businessmen Saudi Arabia Swapping Assets for Freedom of Some Princes, Businessmen

Saudi authorities are striking agreements with some of those detained in an anti-corruption crackdown, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom, sources familiar with the matter said.

The deals involve separating cash from assets like property and shares, and looking at bank accounts to assess cash values, one of the sources told Reuters.

Dozens of princes, senior officials and businessmen, including cabinet ministers and billionaires, have been detained in the graft inquiry at least partly aimed at strengthening the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

These include billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.

One businessman had tens of millions of Saudi riyals withdrawn from his account after he signed. In another case, a former senior official consented to hand over ownership of four billion riyals worth of shares, the source said.  

The Saudi government earlier this week moved from freezing accounts to issuing instructions for “expropriation of unencumbered assets” or seizure of assets, said a second source familiar with the situation.

Reuters could not immediately verify a Financial Times report that in some cases the government is seeking to appropriate as much as 70% of suspects’ wealth to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state coffers.

  Former King’s Son Tortured

Meanwhile, Middle East Eye reported that Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the son of the late King Abdullah who was once considered a future crown prince, was beaten and tortured, along with five other princes, when he was arrested and interrogated in Riyadh during the ongoing political purge in the kingdom.

All six princes were admitted to hospital in the 24 hours following their arrest. One of the men was in such a bad condition that he was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit —treatment which occurs when there is a high risk to the life of a patient, such as organ failure, from the heart, lungs, kidneys, or high blood pressure.

Hospital staff were told that the injuries sustained in each case were the result of “suicide attempts”. All had been severely beaten, but none of them had fractures. The marks on their bodies were consistent with the imprints left by military boots.

MEE has learned that medical units have now been installed in the Ritz-Carlton hotel where the beatings have taken place. This is to prevent torture victims from being taken to hospital.

 

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