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Dozens of princes and former government ministers have been arrested in Saudi Arabia hours after an anti-corruption commission was formed on Saturday November 4. The detained individuals are facing allegations of money laundering, bribery, extorting officials, and misappropriation of public funds for personal benefits.
Officials in the kingdom also froze the bank accounts of numerous businessmen who are being held in five-star hotels across the capital, Riyadh, in an anti-corruption sweep.
The Ethiopian – born business mogul Sheik Mohammed Hussein al Amoudi has been named on the list of the crackdown by the Saudi government.
Al Amoudi, 71, was detained along with 11 princes, four current ministers and a number of former ministers and other prominent businessmen. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the probe is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
According to Forbes, as at 2016, Al Amoudi’s net worth was approximately USD 10.9 billion.
His investments are linked to oil and global commodities. He is also listed as Ethiopia’s richest man and the second richest Saudi Arabian citizen in the world.
The Saudi billionaire owns the Sheraton Addis, MIDROC Ethiopia and various companies across the country.
The Saudi information ministry also stated the government would seize any asset or property related to the alleged corruption, meaning the Sheraton hotel could become state property of the kingdom.
‘The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen,’ a spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said.
‘Any asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property.’
Those detained are being held in five-star hotels across the capital, Riyadh, in the anti-corruption sweep.
The the exact charges are unclear, but in an email to VOA, Tim Pendry, al-Amoudi’s London-based spokesman, insisted the arrest would not affect al-Amoudi’s international business empire.
“As inquiries take place in Saudi Arabia concerning certain allegations, which the Sheikh strongly refutes, this is an internal matter for the Kingdom,” Pendry said. “We have no further comment to make other than to say that the overseas businesses owned by the Sheikh remain unaffected by this development.”
The Saudi government released a statement on Tuesday aimed at reassuring investors with ties to any of the individuals arrested. It said that only personal bank accounts have been frozen, and related businesses would not be affected.
Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said the authorities had questioned 208 people in the “anti-corruption investigation.” They estimated that “at least $100 billion” had been misused by the suspects through systematic graft and embezzlement over several decades.