Saudi prisoners to be freed in exchange for 70% of their wealth

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Saudi officials are seeking to appropriate billions of dollars from captured princes and businessman in exchange for their release.

According to the Financial Times (FT) the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Bin Salman, is negotiating a settlement with some of the country’s most well-known figures who have been detained under corruption charges since the beginning of the month.

In some cases, Saudi officials are demanding 70 per cent of the suspect’s wealth in exchange for their release.

It was widely suspected that Bin Salman’s anti-corruption purge was part of a wider strategy to raise money for the country’s depleting treasury, which has grappled with a recession triggered by prolonged low oil prices.

Read: Saudi UN envoy: anti-graft detainees to get due process

According to the Wall Street Journal, the purge, which saw more than 1,200 bank accounts frozen, had their sights on seizing up to $800 billion in cash and assets.

People negotiating the deal with the prisoners are keen to secure their release by signing over cash and corporate assets, reported the FT.

“They are making settlements with most of those in the Ritz,” said one adviser. “Cough up the cash and you will go home.”

Officials investigating the allegations of corruption are looking to seize at least $100 billion though the target is said to be $300 billion.

While the round up has backing from many of the country’s young population, who perceive the older princes and businessman of being corrupt, it has spooked the international business community.

Reports that the detainees are being tortured by Saudi security officials are likely to raise further concerns over the crackdown. Saudi whistleblowers have alerted that Bin Salman, who is personally overseeing the detention, orders the guards to “beat” the prisoners who are being held at the Ritz Carlton hotel.