Saudi princes, ministers detained by anti-corruption body: reports, its getting better people....

LONDON — Saudi Arabia announced the arrest on Saturday night of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, plus at least 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers.

The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved. Prince Alwaleed’s arrest is sure to send shock waves both through the Kingdom and the world’s major financial centers.

He controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men, with major stakes in News Corp, Time Warner, Citigroup, Twitter, Apple, Motorola and many other well-known companies. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.

Saudi King Salman has announced the creation of a new anti-corruption committee chaired by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has already detained 11 princes, four current ministers and tens of former ministers, according to local media.

Key points:

It not clear what the detainees are suspected of
The move consolidates Prince Mohammed's control over state security
Prince Mohammed was named heir to the throne in June
The King also appointed two new ministers to key security and economic posts and removed one of the royal family's most prominent members as head of the National Guard.
It is not clear what the detainees are suspected of, but state-run Al-Arabiya TV reported the committee is looking into deadly floods that overwhelmed parts of the city of Jiddah in 2009.

Al-Arabiya also reported the committee is investigating the Saudi Government's response to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus that has killed several hundred people in the past few years.

The move consolidates Crown Prince Mohammed's control of the kingdom's security institutions, which had long been headed by separate powerful branches of the ruling family.

Prince Mohammed, the king's 32-year-old son, already serves as defence minister and was named heir to the throne in a June reshuffle that sidelined his older cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef who had also served as interior minister.

He has been responsible at the same time for running Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, dictating an energy policy with global implications, and has been behind the plans for the kingdom to build a future after oil.

What are your thoughts on Saudi Arabia's new anti-corruption committee? Have your say in the comments.
Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles and shakes hands with Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting.
PHOTO: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting at the Kremlin with Russian President Vladimir Putin in May 2017. (Reuters: Pavel Golovkin)
The new anti-corruption body was given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and freeze assets.

"The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable," the royal decree said.

The cabinet reshuffle saw Prince Miteb bin Abdullah replaced as minister of the National Guard by Khaled bin Ayyaf, while Economy Minister Adel Fakieh was removed in favour of his deputy Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, according to a royal decree carried by state-run Al-Arabiya TV.

Prince Miteb, the preferred son of the late King Abdullah, was once thought to be a leading contender for the throne before the unexpected rise of Prince Mohammed two years ago.

He had inherited control of the National Guard, an elite internal security force built out of traditional tribal units, from his father, who ran it for five decades.

Prince Miteb was the last remaining member of Abdullah's branch of the family to hold a position in the upper echelons of the Saudi power structure.

The country's new economy minister, Mr Tuwaijri, is a former Saudi air force pilot and former chief executive of HSBC's Middle East operations who has led the economy ministry's program to privatise some $US200 billion of government assets.

He replaces Mr Fakieh, who served as the point man for the kingdom's wide-ranging economic reforms since his appointment as economy and planning minister in 2015.

A former food executive with a reputation for pushing through politically sensitive reforms, Mr Fakieh had previously served as labour minister, health minister and mayor of Jeddah.

Mr Fakieh faced down fierce opposition from the business community as labour minister when he established quotas for foreign workers to boost jobs for Saudis.

Under Prince Mohammed, Mr Fakieh led the development of a national transformation plan and privatisation drive launched last year to end the kingdom's vulnerability to an unpredictable oil market.

His replacement comes as the kingdom makes adjustments to that plan, a process dubbed NTP 2.0.

The royal decree did not say whether Mr Fakieh would hold any other government position.

Former ministers often serve in advisory roles after leaving their posts.


Topics: world-politics, law-crime-and-justice, government-and-politics, saudi-arabia

StevieRay Hansen Investigative Reporter for and

Tags Politics Tagged Under: Tags: Birth Pains, world-politics, law-crime-and-justice, government-and-politics, saudi-arabia
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