Saudi Arabia closes 15-month anti-corruption campaign: SPA

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia January 14, 2019. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via REUTERS

RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has ended a sprawling crackdown on corruption ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that it said had recovered more than $106 billion through settlements with scores of senior princes, ministers and top businessmen.

Under the surprise campaign launched in November 2017, the government summoned 381 people, some as witnesses, and reached settlements with 87 people who confessed to the charges against them, the royal court said in a statement. Reclaimed assets included real estate, companies and cash.

The public prosecutor refused to settle the cases of 56 people due to existing criminal charges against them, and eight people refused to reach a settlement and stand accused of corruption, the statement added. Detainees who were not indicted on charges related to corruption were released.

For the first three months of the campaign, many of the kingdom’s economic and political elite, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel for nearly three months.

Critics called the campaign a shakedown and power play by Prince Mohammed, and it unsettled some foreign investors who he is courting to diversify its economy away from oil.

“The committee has completed its objective, and accordingly, HRH the Crown Prince requested The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque’s approval to conclude its tasks. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has approved this request,” the statement said.

Reporting By Stephen Kalin, Marwa Rashad and Mohammed El Sherif; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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