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Saudi 'anti-corruption' sweep will continue: Official

The crackdown, which targeted business and political elite last year, will move on to low-level cases, prosecutor says
File photo of homes and skyscrapers in Riyadh (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said on Tuesday that the government campaign against corruption, which targeted the business and political elite last year, would work its way through lower-level offences.

"The campaign is ongoing as long as there is even a simple case (of corruption) ... and it will not end until (all) corruption cases are finished," prosecutor Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb told state television in a clip posted online, without providing details.

Authorities rounded up dozens of princes, top officials and businessmen in November on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's orders, with many confined and interrogated at Riyadh's opulent Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Most detainees, including global investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, were released after being exonerated or reaching financial settlements with the government, which says it arranged to seize more than $100bn through such deals.

The Ritz was cleared out and reopened to the public in February, though 56 people who had not reached settlements by then remained in custody and could face trial.

Bin Salman is currently touring the United States to promote investment in the kingdom, touting the corruption sweep as critical to transforming an oil-dependent economy long plagued by graft but now contending with lower global crude prices.

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However, critics accuse the powerful crown prince of using the crackdown to consolidate his powers and subdue potential challengers.

MEE reported last year that detainees had been tortured while in custody.

In March, Human Rights Watch accused the kingdom of denying due process to the prisoners. The rights group urged Saudi authorities to "immediately investigate the claims that authorities physically mistreated or coerced prominent people detained in November 2017".

The campaign remains shrouded in secrecy with few specific allegations or details of financial settlements revealed.

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