>> It's been nearly two weeks since dozens of Saudi Arabia's elite were detained in an anti-graft purge. Part of a ruthless transformation of the kingdom by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. Now sources say authorities are striking deals asking some of those detained to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.
One businessman agreed to tens of millions of Saudi riyals being withdrawn from his bank account. Another former senior official signed away ownership of 4 billion riyals or more than $1 billion worth of shares. Royalty, senior officials and businessmen have been detained in the inquiry, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world and likened as the Middle East's Warren Buffet.
A newly formed anti-corruption committee was created by royal decree and is chaired by 32-year-old Prince Mohammed. It has the power to use, quote, whatever measures are deemed necessary to seize companies, funds and other assets. But many analysts say the goal of this purge goes beyond corruption, and is aimed at removing any potential opposition to the young prince as he pushes a controversial reform agenda.
Reuters correspondent, in Riyadh, Stephen Kalin, says the prince is trying to move the economy away from its dependency on oil.>> He's trying to improve the private sector which includes partly privatizing many companies, building up the private sector, getting more Saudis into the workforce.>> Saudi authorities have pledged fair justice to those detained.