Saudi Arabia graft suspects are said to start payments for freedom; $100 billion could be recovered

By: |
Published: November 22, 2017 7:04:45 PM

The payments, less than a month since the detentions, show the speed at which Saudi Arabia wants to settle the corruption probe that involved the sudden arrests of royals and billionaires such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal this month.

Saudi, Saudi Arabia, Freedom, Exchange for freedom, Corruption, Businessmen, Prince Alwaleed bin TalalThe payments, less than a month since the detentions, show the speed at which Saudi Arabia wants to settle the corruption probe that involved the sudden arrests of royals and billionaires such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal this month. (Image: Reuters)

Saudi suspects being held as part of the kingdom’s crackdown on alleged corruption are starting to make payments to settle cases in exchange for freedom, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Some businessmen and officials being detained at the Ritz-Carlton are signing agreements with authorities to transfer a portion of their assets to avoid trial, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Some detainees have started to transfer funds from personal accounts to government-controlled accounts, the people said.

The payments, less than a month since the detentions, show the speed at which Saudi Arabia wants to settle the corruption probe that involved the sudden arrests of royals and billionaires such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal this month. The purge — while welcomed by some in Saudi Arabia — has also stirred political uncertainty in the kingdom at a time when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to attract international investment. The government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

$100 Billion Recovery

Authorities estimate they may be able to recover between $50 billion and $100 billion from settlement agreements with suspects, a senior official said this week. Suspects are being offered settlements to avoid trial, the Saudi official said. If they accept, talks are held with a special committee to work out the details. Payments are based on the amounts authorities believe suspects have amassed illegally, not their entire wealth, the official said.

The crackdown comes at a delicate time for Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy grappling with the worst economic slowdown since 2009 as well as political unrest in the region. Economists expect the investigation to slow already sluggish private investment in the kingdom and hit economic growth next year. Wealthy Saudis are seeking to restructure their businesses to ring fence assets in case authorities widen the crackdown, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The purge has also prompted some Saudi billionaires and millionaires to sell investments in neighboring Gulf countries and turning them into cash or liquid holdings overseas to avoid the risk of getting caught up in the sweep, other people said.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Next Stories
1Watch video: Incredible footage of North Korean soldier escaping in jeep and on foot even as comrades fire to kill
2American Airlines, United Airlines agree to $95.1 million settlement with World Trade Centre developer over 9/11 attacks
3Chinese official expresses concern over political unrest in Pakistan