How much did Saudi crown prince MbS line
his pockets state coffers with following the so-called "corruption crackdown" which involved scores of top officials and rival princes held prisoners in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel through and after November of last year? The official figures are in: the "purge" was a shakedown to the tune of more than $13 billion.
And now the Saudis are positively bragging about it (perhaps shielding the disappointment of not grabbing the full hoped-for $100bn), with Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan announcing Tuesday that his government "collected more than 50 billion riyal ($13.33 billion) so far this year from settlements reached with detainees in a crackdown on corruption launched at the end of last year," according to Reuters.
Saudi authorities stated previously this year that their goal was to seize some $100bn overall, thus it appears MbS' ambitions fell far short. At the time 381 Saudis were hauled in and locked up a span of 3 months at the Ritz-Carlton super-luxury hotel which boasts nearly 500 rooms and 52 acres of land, with 62,000 feet of conference space, and a 4,575-square-foot royal suite to boot which held one of the world's richest men for the longest detention, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Though Prince Alwaleed was among the "big fish" held the longest at 83 days, his story was representative of many who cut "secret deals" to fork over untold hundreds of millions each in order to obtain freedom.
After his release Alwaleed would tell Bloomberg Television his detention was "done with honor and dignity". He described in the March interview:
Well, I would not use the word “arrested,” because we were invited to the king’s house and then asked to go to the Ritz-Carlton. So it was done with honor and dignity, and our prestige was maintained. Not only me; everybody else.
It was all based on "misunderstanding" of course, according to the billionaire prince, and "there were no charges". Quite a costly "misunderstanding" though, as we wonder how much of the newly announced recovered 50bn riyals was Alwaleed personally forking over a vast chunk of his net worth. There were wide reports of torture at the time.
Also at the time media reports confirmed that the crackdown was all about cash from the beginning, as it was revealed that the Saudi government offered the new occupants of the Riyadh Ritz way out.... to cede to the state as much as 70% of their net worth.