RIYADH: Saudi Arabia pursued a sweeping purge of the kingdom’s upper ranks on Sunday, saying it would freeze the accounts of dozens of princes, ministers and a tycoon arrested as the crown prince cements his hold on power.
“The accounts and balances of those detained will be revealed and frozen. Any asset or property related to these cases of corruption will be registered as state property,” the kingdom’s information ministry said.
“The suspects are being granted the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen,” attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said in a statement, adding that a number of investigations had been initiated.
“A suspect’s position or status does not influence the firm and fair application of justice.”
Prominent billionaire Al-Waleed bin Talal was among the princes arrested late Saturday, a government source told, immediately after a new anti-corruption commission headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was established by royal decree.
Separately, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves through the kingdom.
The dramatic shake-up comes at a time of unprecedented social and economic transformation in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, as Prince Mohammed steps up his reform drive for a post-oil era.
four current ministers and dozens of ex-ministers were arrested as the commission launched a probe into old cases such as floods that devastated the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2009.
The government official gave a list of 14 of the most high-profile names including Prince Al-Waleed, ranked among the richest men in the world.=DNA