All Detainees in Saudi Corruption Probe Released From Ritz Carlton

Casey Dawson
February 2, 2018

Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammad bin Salman on Wednesday revealed that he had lost an estimated 106.7 USA billion dollars as settlements received in a late-night game of online gambling as a part of the kingdom's "anti-corruption drive", according to local media.

The figure included the value of real estate, business, cash, shares and other assets that many of those detained had signed over during negotiations with the state.

News broke earlier on Tuesday that Saudi authorities had released all remaining detainees from Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which had been used as an interrogation center in a crackdown on corruption, according to a Saudi official.

The Saudi Arabian authorities say they have seized over 100 billion dollars from royal family members and businessmen in an anti-graft campaign.

Many were brought in as witnesses, while others were accused of corruption and released only after handing over significant assets to the government, the statement said.

The huge sum, if it is successfully recovered, would be a big financial boost for the government, which has seen its finances strained by low oil prices.

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Saudi Arabia, which pumps 10 million barrels of oil per day, has posted budget deficits totaling $260 billion over the past four years, and projects a shortfall of $52 billion this year.

Fifty-six of the 381 people called in for questioning since November 4 remained in custody, the kingdom's attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb was quoted as saying in a BBC report.

Both men were released at the end of last week.

Saudi officials, however, say that they agreed to financial settlements after admitting to unspecified "violations".

In another sign that the investigation was winding down, a Saudi official told Reuters on Tuesday that all detainees had now left the Ritz-Carlton.

A prominent Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has been released from a two-month detention after paying a settlement in an anti-corruption bust. It has said it will reopen to the public in mid-February, with a nightly rate for its cheapest room of 2,439 riyals ($650).

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