Saudi Arabia to freeze accounts of those arrested in crackdown

 05 Nov 2017 - 18:36

Saudi Arabia to freeze accounts of those arrested in crackdown
A man speaks on the phone as he walks past the Kingdom Centre Tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

AFP / Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia said Sunday that bank accounts of dozens of high-profile figures arrested in an anti-corruption sweep will be frozen.

"The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen. Any asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property," the kingdom's information ministry said.

Saudi Arabia has dismissed a number of senior ministers and detained nearly a dozen princes in an investigation by a new anti-corruption committee, state media reported on Saturday. 
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, was among those held, according to Reuters news agency, citing an unnamed senior official.
The senior ministers who were sacked include Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard, and Adel Faqih, the economy minister.
Abdullah al-Sultan, commander of the Saudi navy, was replaced by Fahad al-Ghafli.

In a statement on the official Saudi news agency, SPA, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud alluded to the "exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money" for the creation of the anti-graft committee.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel reported that at least 11 princes, four current ministers and several former ministers had been detained in the anti-corruption probe.

Saudi officials, businessmen reportedly detained:
Alwaleed bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holding group
Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, minister of the National Guard
Prince Turki bin Abdullah, former governor of Riyadh 
Prince Turki bin Nasser, former head of meteorology, environment
Waleed al-Ibrahim, chairman of MBC media group
Khaled al-Tuwaijri, former president of the Royal Court
Adel Faqih, minister of economy and planning
Amr al-Dabbagh, former president of the General Investment Authority
Saleh Abdullah Kamel, chairman of Dallah al Baraka Group
Saud al-Tobaishi, head of Royal ceremonies and protocols
Ibrahim al-Assaf, state minister and executive of Saudi Aramco
Bakr Binladin, owner of construction company Saudi Binladin Group
Saud al-Dawish, former CEO of Saudi Telecom Company
Khaled al-Mulhem, former director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines

Saudi authorities have not confirmed the names of those detained. However, 14 former and current ministers, officials and businessmen were mentioned on social media as being among those held. 
One of those mentioned is Waleed Ibrahim, the chairman of the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), under which Al Arabiya operates. 
According to Al Arabiya, the new committee, which is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is looking into the 2009 floods that devastated parts of Jeddah, as well as the government's response to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus outbreak. 

King Salman issued a statement saying that the committee shall "identify offences, crimes and persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption".
The committee has the power to issue arrest warrants, travel bans, disclose and freeze accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets, and "prevent their remittance or transfer by persons and entities, whatever they might be", according to the statement.

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