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SAUDI ARABIA’S ANTI-CORRUPTION DRIVE YIELDS OVER $100 BILLION IN FINANCIAL SETTLEMENTS

According to an official statement by Saud al-Mojeb, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general, financial settlements worth over SAR 400 billion ($106.7 billion) were reached with princes, government officials and leading businessmen detained in the kingdom’s recent crackdown on corruption.

Assets included real estate, companies, securities and cash. Reuters quoted Saudi officials as saying senior prince Miteb bin Abdullah had agreed to pay more than $1 billion. The officials said both Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the head of Kingdom Holdings, and Waleed Al-Ibrahim, head of the Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) had also agreed to financial settlements after admitting unspecified “violations”. Prince Alwaleed continued to insist publicly he was innocent, while MBC said Al Ibrahim had been fully exonerated. The announcement by the attorney general appeared to represent a political victory for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who launched the anti-corruption drive in November 2017 and even predicted at the time that it would net about $100 billion in settlements. The huge sum, if it is successfully recovered, would be a financial boost for the Saudi government, which has seen its finances strained by low oil prices. Bankers in the region said the secrecy of the crackdown had unsettled the business community and could weigh on the willingness of local and foreign businesses to invest. “It’s reassuring if this situation is finally at an end, as the process was not clear from the start and at least if it is now ended, that provides some clarity and closure,” said a banker who deals with Saudi Arabia