Saudi Princes offered freedom for 70 percent of their wealth

Saudi

News Analysis | 

Saudi Arabian authorities are demanding billions of dollars from the detained princes and prominent businessmen following their arrest in the so-called anti-corruption drive.

The princes were imprisoned in the luxury Ritz hotel after Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman launched the anti-graft campaign. This move is being seen as an attempt of the young prince to consolidate his power.

The Princes are being offered freedom if they agree to the demands of the authorities.

Rumors suggest that the 32-year-old Prince Salman – also known as MBS – intends to take the reins from his Father, King Salman, who will retain only a ceremonial position as the Custodian of the Holy Shrines.

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Those incarcerated include billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.

The Princes are being offered freedom if they agree to the demands of the authorities.

Reportedly, one businessman has already had tens of millions of Saudi riyals withdrawn from his account after he signed.

In another case, a former senior official consented to hand over ownership of four billion riyals worth of shares, Reuters reported.

Financial Times has reported that Saudi authorities are seeking up to 70 percent of the wealth of incarcerated princes. 

The deals may put a dent in the $98 billion state deficit which was a result of low oil prices.

The younger generation of Saudis views MBS as a progressive who can alleviate the stifling conservative social order of the nation.

Observers are speculating that the deals may help end uncertainty about the anti-corruption crackdown but could have an impact on Saudi Arabia’s risk perception among investors.

The Saudi government has, in recent years, been pressing wealthy individuals to invest more in the kingdom and bring home some of their wealth from overseas. Such measures are part of a wider strategy to wean the Kingdom off of oil money and diversify the economy.

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Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has also started the ultra-conservative Saudi society towards a more progressive future. He has introduced reforms relaxing the strict guardianship laws and has even lifted the driving ban on women.

The anti-corruption drive has garnered much popularity for the Prince amongst average Saudis. The younger generation of Saudis views MBS as a progressive who can alleviate the stifling conservative social order of the nation.

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