Saudi banks have frozen more than 1,200 accounts belonging to individuals and companies in Saudi Arabia as part of the government crackdown on corruption, al-Hayat reported on Wednesday.
The official Saudi news agency reported on Tuesday that the decision of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) to suspend bank accounts of persons of interest came in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them. “It is worth clarifying here,” the news agency added, “that concerned individual accounts rather than their corporate businesses have been put in suspension until final court rulings. In other words, corporate businesses remain unaffected. It is business as usual for both banks and corporations. Also, SAMA would like to reiterate that there are no restrictions on money transfers through proper banking channel.”
Reuters reported that SAMA officials met with foreign bank managers this week to reassure them that the freezing of accounts was aimed at individuals and companies associated with some of the royals who have been detained on charges of corruption, and other accounts would not be harmed. According to a Bloomberg estimate, the amount of money confiscated over charges of corruption so far at $33 billion.
The arrests, earlier this week, were ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a crackdown on corruption. One of those placed behind bars was Saudi Arabia’s richest investor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the heir apparent’s biggest rival, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, once the favored son of the late King Abdullah.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz has ordered the formation of a supreme committee headed by the Crown Prince, to “limit offenses and crimes by individuals and entities related to the public corruption cases, to protect the rights of the state as well as protect public funds.”