Saudi minister detained in corruption sweep 'resumes work'

Saudi minister detained in corruption sweep 'resumes work'
Saudi minister of state Ibrahim Assaf was pictured in a meeting with King Salman on Tuesday, signalling his release from the Ritz-Carlton luxury prison.
2 min read
02 January, 2018
Minister of state Ibrahim Assaf was back at work after two months' detention [Getty]
A Saudi minister who was arrested in a so-called anti-corruption probe and detained at a Riyadh hotel was back to work on Tuesday after he was "proven innocent", media reported.

Pictures posted by the official Saudi Press Agency showed Saudi King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the minister, Ibrahim Assaf, at the meeting.

Saudi newspaper Sabq, which is close to the government, said that Assaf "resumed work" on Tuesday after being "recently proven innocent and leaving the Ritz-Carlton".

Assaf, a minister of state and ex-finance minister, was among more than 200 princes, ministers and businessmen rounded up in November in an anti-corruption purge.

Most of those detained were held at the five star Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, now a luxury prison.

The purge came as powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, heir to the throne, consolidated his grip on the Gulf kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's attorney general has said most of those detained struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom. 

The most high-profile target of the crackdown was billionaire and investor Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who has stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup.

Authorities insist the purge aimed to target endemic corruption as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Saudi authorities insist the financial settlements are not blackmail but an obligation to reimburse money taken illegally from the world’s top oil producer over several decades.