RIYADH: In the on-going saudi round-up, dozens of Trading accounts of Saudis accused of corruption have been frozen, and fears of off-shore accounts being freezed grow among the Kingdom’s rich section. These trading accounts were blocked at the request of the Saudi government’s financial regulatory body, the Capital Market Authority, reports Bloomberg.
The move came in the backdrop of the crackdown due to corruption that led to arrest of more than 200 Saudi elite which includes 11 princes and influential corporate leaders. The crackdown was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Observers view that it is just a matter of time before overseas accounts are freezed.
“According to domestic banking sources, more than 2,000 bank accounts have already been frozen,” said Enzo Caputo from the Switzerland-based Caputo & Partners law firm. “The fishing expedition will be extended to Swiss banks very soon.”
About 55 percent of the Saudi elite’s wealth is kept in off-shore tax havens. Concerned Saudi investors have expressed fears that Swiss banking authorities will freeze their accounts at the request of the Saudi government, and they are more likey to be frozen,said Caputo.
Corruption “uncovered is very large”. says the Saudi attorney general, Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb. According to Mojeb, more than 200 people have been called for questioning and seven have been released without any charges.
The attorney general also said that “Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least $100bn has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades,”
Some analysts doubt whether the mass arrests are genuinely related to corruption, or if the move is tussle for power to neutralize rivals by Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.