Saudi Arabia could make billions of dollars from its unprecedented corruption crackdown, according to a new BBC report .
Two BBC journalists were recently allowed to visit the Ritz Carlton in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, where more than 200 of the kingdom’s richest and most powerful people are being held. The BBC also spoke with several Saudi officials, including one who identified himself as a part of the Special Committee behind this month’s anti-corruption arrests.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is widely seen to be the muscle behind the recent anti-corruption purge, as he consolidates power in a way Saudi Arabia hasn’t seen in decades.
When asked about reports of cash and assets totaling $800 billion that belong to the people accused of corruption, the official said, “Even if we get 100 billion back, that would be good.”
The Financial Times reported earlier this month that Saudi Arabian authorities are negotiating settlements with the princes and businessmen currently detained at the Ritz Carlton.
Saudi officials are asking some of the businessmen, royals and ministers detained in Crown Prince Mohammad’s purge to pay as much as 70% of their wealth in return for their freedom, people familiar with the situation told the Financial Times.
The Special Committee official, speaking to the BBC, gave several examples of corruption that people some people are being held for.
“You see this,” he said, holding a gold-rimmed coffee cup at the Ritz Carlton. “It should cost 10 dollars. But with corruption, it costs 100 dollars.”
The official also gave examples such as unfinished schools, and hospitals that costs tens of millions of dollars more than they should have.