Saudi Arabia has detained over 200 princes and government ministers in what the state claims is an anti-corruption probe. Saudi Arabia says that at least $100 billion has been lost to corruption and embezzlement in the last decade.
Saud Mojeb, the Saudi Attorney general says over 200 people have been called in for questioning since Saturday. Since then only seven people have been released without charges.
Mojeb said that “The potential scale of corrupt practices which have been uncovered is very large.” It took three years of investigation which ultimately revealed $100 billion had been misused.
Prominent Saudi Prince Bin Talal was arrested early in the month. The arrests have been carried out by a new royal anti-corruption committee and authorised by Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, his cousin.
Bin Talal is one of the world’s wealthiest men, owning stocks in Twitter, Citigroup and News Corp. He’s known for his progressive views and his philanthropy.
Some of the others arrested include the former head of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a former defence minister, former head of the royal court and many others.
Over 1,700 personal bank accounts have been frozen. The Saudi information ministry has said the crackdown would not affect businesses in an attempt to stabilise the situation.
Some view the arrests as an attempt at a purge or coup. The arrests and recent actions have meant that three important government positions are now under the control of Prince Mohammed and his allies.
Prince Muhammed is a moderniser within Sauda Arabia. He hopes to move the Kingdom away from its reliance on oil and modernise the moral code in Saudi Arabia. In September a royal decree was put forward, that means women will be able to drive next year.
The crackdown and arrest of wealthy individuals who are seen to be associated with corruption have gone well with young Saudis; 70% of the population is under 30.