Fighting corruption – Arabian style

The two-month campaign against corruption in Saudi Arabia has been marked in recent weeks by several interesting events. Saudi media reported that, after process, some members of the royal family and former high-ranking officials were released. Thus, in more than one stage, more than 20 people were released, including three sons of King Abdullah – the former commander of the National Guard Prince Miteb, the former head of the Red Crescent Society Prince Faisal, the former Governor of Mecca, Prince Mashaal (the third son, remains under arrest). Especially notable was the release of former Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Abdul Aziz al-Assaf.
However, such positive changes have not affected all those arrested. Prince Al-Walid ibn Talal ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud (who ranks 22 in the list of the richest people in the world), better known as the “Arabian Warren Buffett” is still under arrest. According to information from foreign media, the final decision on his case is being postponed for an indefinite period. According to “Bloemberg” and “The Wall Street Journal”, al-Walid refused the demand of the investigation to pay six billion dollars. Prince Al-Walid considers the payment of the required amount as “redemption” and confession of guilt, which ultimately leads to the destruction of his financial empire, which he has created for 25 years. Although the arrest of Prince Al-Walid had already affected negatively his holding, which lost about 14% of its market value (8.7 billion dollars).
Most analysts who closely monitor the progress of the investigation of Prince Al-Valid Bin Talal case note that delaying this process is a serious factor that has a generally negative impact on the investment climate in Saudi Arabia. It has been repeatedly noted that the “opacity” of the investigation, as well as the direct interference of the state into the private business projects etc., creates real problems for doing business in Saudi Arabia in the future and not fosters mutual confidence.
It is noteworthy that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who announced this “anti-corruption” company, rejects the demands of Prince Al-Walid to attract international audit firms for an objective check of all financial activity that preceded his arrest. Such decisions and methods used by the Crown Prince increasingly lead international analysts to the opinion of the fact of veiled racket, hidden behind the screen of “legitimate democratic procedures.” Equally alarming was the report of the death of Brigadier General Ali bin Abdullah al-Jarash al-Qahtani who died in December 2017. It is assumed that the cause of death was the holding of special “investigative measures”. According to his family members, his health before his arrest was good, and he did not suffer from any chronic illnesses. As follows from the information received, al-Qahtani was arrested on a standard charge – “corruption activity”.

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