Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman revealed that 95 per cent of those arrested on corruption charges in Saudi Arabia agreed to a settlement and to return state funds.
In an interview with the New York Times yesterday, Bin Salman pointed out that about one per cent of the detainees were proven innocent and their cases have been closed, while four per cent denied corruption charges and expressed their desire to go to court.
Authorities arrested over 200 individuals on 4 November. This included 11 princes, four current ministers and dozens of former ministers and businessmen on corruption charges. They are being detained in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
The Saudi public prosecutor, Saud Al-Mojib, said on 10 November that the number of people arrested on corruption charges reached 208 people, seven of whom were released “for lack of sufficient evidence”. He added that investigations indicated that at least $100 billion was siphoned in corruption and embezzlement operations.
In response to a question by Thomas Friedman, who conducted the interview, about what is happening at the Ritz and whether the campaign against corruption was a power play to eliminate his family and private sector rivals before his father King Salman hands power over to him, he said. “It’s ludicrous to suggest that this anticorruption campaign was a power grab.”
He pointed out that many prominent individuals detained in the Ritz had already publically pledged allegiance to him and support his reforms, and that “a majority of the royal family” is already behind him.
“Our country has suffered a lot from corruption from the 1980s until today. The calculation of our experts is that roughly ten per cent of all government spending was siphoned off by corruption each year, from the top levels to the bottom,” he added.
Bin Salman also stated, “Over the years the government launched more than one ‘war on corruption’ and they all failed. Why? Because they all started from the bottom up.”
Bin Salman noted that the Saudi public prosecutor, Saud Al-Mojib, expects the amount of returned funds through settlement to amount to $100 billion.