Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption crackdown may see the government seize up to $800 billion in cash and assets according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.
The US business newspaper quoted unnamed sources in claiming that the government was planning to seize up to $800 billion on the basis that they were amassed through corruption.
Since the launch of the crackdown Saudi Arabian banks have frozen more than 1,200 accounts belonging to individuals and companies in the Kingdom.
The most prominent of those held against their will in the Ritz Calton Hotel in Riyadh include the Kingdom’s best-known international investor, Al-Waleed Bin Talal who is thought to be worth $16.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has said that any wealth acquired through corruption will be nationalised.
Critics however have called the cull further proof that Bin Salman is eradicating any opposition, ensuring his succession and gaining overall control of the country.
Salman’s motives have also been questioned in light of the fact that his vision for the country is facing financial hurdles. The young prince requires cash to fund the government’s investment plans, which have been hampered by declining oil prices.
Saudi authorities are expected to make further arrests following the three-year-long investigation into corruption practices in the Kingdom. Officials have also prohibited a large number of people from leaving the country, including hundreds of royals and individuals connected to the already arrested people.