Saudi Prince calls billionaire shakedown a lucrative success

A total of about $107 billion has been recovered as a result of the detention of scores of Saudi royals and businessmen in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in 2017, according to the kingdom’s anti-corruption commission.

It said the assets collected from the 87 detainees came in a mix of cash, real estate, companies, and securities. The commission, which was headed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), referred more than 60 people to prosecution, saying that 56 of them had “other criminal cases against them.” Eight other people “refused to settle despite the existence of evidence against them, and they were referred to the public prosecutor.”\

MBS, who called the anti-corruption campaign a “shock therapy,” has declared it a lucrative success. He told Bloomberg earlier that $35 billion had been collected from the prisoners.

His announcements come as one of the prisoners, Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi, was freed last Sunday after being held in an undisclosed location on bribery and corruption charges.

Among those released within the past few weeks were philanthropist and former government minister Amr Al-Dabbagh; former McKinsey & Co. partner Hani Khoja; and Sami Baroum, an ex-managing director of one of the kingdom’s biggest food companies.

Saudi authorities constrained post-prison life for many of those targeted with travel bans and heightened surveillance within the country.

Two years ago, the swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Saudi capital was turned into a prison for the royal elite accused by the ruling regime of corruption. Hundreds of people, including businessmen, officials, and 17 princes were arrested as part of the purge which reportedly aimed to recoup as much as $100 billion from them. Some detainees were reportedly tortured, a claim which the authorities have denied.