The sweeping anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia has earned the government an estimated $106.7 billion dollars in settlements, according to the kingdom's attorney general.
Attorney general Saud al-Mojeb said 56 of the 381 people questioned in the anti-corruption investigation that began November 4 are still in custody. The other 325 had either been cleared or admitted guilt and handed over properties, cash, securities and other assets as part of restitution.
The billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Tala was among those who were recently released from detention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel which was serving as confinement for the wealthy accused. Alwalid al-Ibrahim, the owner of the Arab satellite television network MBC, was also recently released from detention, both men insist they are innocent.
According to Saudi official sources, they had both agreed to financial settlements after admitting certain unnamed "violations". Sources also say Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah, also handed over more than $1 billion in assets while state minister Ibrahim al-Assaf was cleared of all charges.
Sheikh Mojeb maintains that he "refused to settle" with the 56 individuals still being detained "due to other pending criminal cases, or in order to continue the investigation process". It is likely the remaining prisoners will be transferred to prison from the Ritz-Carlton which is scheduled to reopen its doors to the public next month.
Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said last week the money recovered from the accused through settlements would be used to fund a $13.3 billion program to help decrease inequality among Saudi citizens dealing with the rising cost of living.
The whole anti-corruption investigation was led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of King Salman. Analysts suggest that it is just another form of a power grab, an idea that Salman rejects as "ludicrous".
The Crown Prince has said that many of the people detained in the anti-corruption drive have since pledged allegiance to him since he became heir to the crown in June.
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