Saudi says $107bn received in corruption settlements

The assets were handed over in the form of real estate, commercial entities, securities and cash

Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said on Tuesday the kingdom had received settlements exceeding SAR400bn ($106.7bn) from detainees following the winding down of the first phase of a corruption purge.

In comments carried by Saudi Press Agency, Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb said the Supreme Committee for Combating Corruption subpoenaed 381 people in total from the date of a royal order in early November, many of whom were summoned to testify and provide evidence.

A review of all the cases relating to those accused of corruption is now complete and negotiations with those willing to settle in exchange for their freedom have concluded.

Cases were transferred to the Public Prosecution, which decided to release those that had settled and admitted to wrongdoing or had insufficient evidence supporting the allegations against them.

The prosecution decided to keep in custody 56 individuals the attorney general had refused to settle with “due to other pending criminal cases, in order to continue the investigations process, and in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations”. This was down from 95 last week.

Read: Saudi to recover more than $100bn in corruption settlements

Al Mojeb said that the estimated value of the settlements received so far exceeded SAR400bn and they came in the form of real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets.

He previously stated in November that at least $100bn of funds had been misused through “systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades”.

Read: Saudi attorney general says $100bn misused through “systematic corruption”

Reuters reported on Tuesday that the kingdom had closed a detention centre for those snared by the anti-graft drive at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Read: Saudi closes hotel detention centre

This followed the release of a number of high profile businessmen over the weekend including billionaire Prince Alwaleed and the founder of Middle East broadcaster MBC, Waleed al-Ibrahim.

The exact settlements both men agreed to are unknown.

Read: Shares in Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding soar, but banks cautious

Those still being held are reported to have been transferred from plush hotels to prisons to await legal proceedings.

Read: MBC’s Ibrahim to keep control of broadcaster after detention

In an interview with Reuters at his suite in the Ritz-Carlton hours before he was released on Saturday, Prince Alwaleed said he had been well-treated in custody and described his detention case as a misunderstanding.

Those that are still being detained face potential court cases in Riyadh and Jeddah, with Saudi Gazette reporting special criminal circuits of three judges each had been established at criminal courts in both locations.

Read: Saudi courts prepare framework for corruption detainees

They are expected to face 14 charges ranging from bribery to forgery, money laundering, power misuse, dissipating public funds and amassing wealth at the expense of the government.

Finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said last week the settlements would be used to fund $13.3bn of financial handouts to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living.

Read: Saudi king orders new payments to offset rising living costs