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>> Saudi Arabia says it will confiscate money and assets held by dozens of top officials and businessmen as it takes it anti-corruption crackdown beyond it's borders. Princes, business tycoons, and politicians were arrested at the weekend in a purge that cements the power of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Many of them being held here at the luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh's diplomatic quarter. Their assets now being targeted by the newly formed anti-corruption committee which was created by royal decree and is chaired by Prince Muhammad. It has the power to use whatever measures are deemed necessary to seize company's funds and other assets.
And the scrutiny of off-shore funds has already begun. Banks in the United Arab Emirates are being asked to give up details about Saudi citizens detained in the investigation. The UAE and Dubai in particular are popular destinations for Saudi money. Commercial bankers told Reuters that UAE regulators had asked for details on the accounts of 19 Saudis.
> Almost all of those 19, including billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal have been detained in the inquiry. Commercial bankers said UAE authorities had not explained why they wanted the information, but believed it was at the behest of the Saudi government. Central Bank officials in the UAE were not available to comment.
The move is seen as a possible precursor to those accounts being frozen, and huge amounts of money could be at stake. An official at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce estimated that if all the revenue lost to corruption was retrieved it would total $800 billion. Much of that some believe to be held in off shore bank accounts, portfolio investments, corporate share holdings, and real estate.
Saudi officials in Riyadh who have reportedly frozen over 1,700 domestic bank accounts in the crack down, did not respond to requests for comment.