Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman orders new anti-corruption purge targeting public servants
The head of Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption commission has vowed to target government employees in a new purge, following the high-profile arrest campaign two years ago of business leaders and royals in the kingdom.
In November 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the detention of over 200 top Saudi officials and businessmen in a purported anti-corruption drive in the country.
Experts said it was a way of consolidating his grip on power by securing cash from 'shake downs' and eliminating potential rivals.
Mazen al-Khamous, the new head of Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption commission, told Al Arabiya TV on Friday that he had been instructed to target bureaucratic corruption, and would update Mohammed bin Salman on a monthly basis.
"After the country largely rid itself of the big heads of corruption, I convey a stern warning from the crown prince, who instructed me that the coming period will be to eradicate corruption among mid- and low-level public servants," he said.
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The 2017 anti-corruption sweep saw hundreds of leading royals, officials and business leaders detained at the Ritz hotel, with at least one person allegedly dying under torture.
Riyadh announced an end to its high-profile corruption purge in January this year, but some of those arrested remain in detention nearly 18 months later, without any clear legal basis.
Saudi Arabia netted around $106.6 billion during the corruption purge after forcing settlements with detainees which included cash, real estate, businesses and securities.
In the early days of the crackdown more than 17 detainees were hospitalised for physical abuse.
The sweep helped cement the crown prince’s powerful status.
Analysts and critics said it was also a way for the prince to sideline potential rivals and consolidate power as he prepares to inherit the throne from his father, King Salman.
Agencies contributed to this report.