RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabian authorities have made further arrests and frozen more bank accounts in an expanding anti-corruption crackdown on the kingdom’s political and business elite, sources familiar with the matter said yesterday.
Dozens of royal family members, officials and business executives have already been held in the purge announced on Saturday. They face allegations of money laundering, bribery, extortion and exploiting public office for personal gain.
But the sources, speaking yesterday, said a number of other individuals suspected of wrongdoing were detained in an expansion of the crackdown, widely seen as an initiative of the powerful heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Others under scrutiny are being telephoned by investigators about their finances but appear to remain at liberty, one of the sources said, adding that the number of people targeted by the crackdown was expected eventually to rise into the hundreds.
The number of domestic bank accounts frozen as a result of the purge is over 1,700 and rising, up from 1,200 reported on Tuesday, banking sources said.
A number of those held most recently include individuals with links to the immediate family of the late Crown Prince and Defence Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz who died in 2011, the sources said.
Others appear to be lower-level managers and officials, one of the sources said.
Many Saudis have cheered the purge as an attack on the theft of state funds by the rich, and US President Donald Trump said those arrested had been “’milking’ their country for years”.