Saudi Purge Uncovers $100 Billion Corruption Scandal

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

A social and cultural revolution is underway in Saudi Arabia as the new royal regime sweeps away fraud and corruption.

In a purge of princes and entrepreneurs, more than 200 arrests have been made relating to more than $100 billion diverted away from the country’s coffers into the pockets of crooked businessmen.

“The potential scale of corrupt practices which have been uncovered is very large,” the information ministry said in a statement.

“Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, son of King Salman, is the force behind the throne powering through the major changes.

The prince is waging war on many fronts besides the anti-corruption campaign.

He has Saudi jets and troops fighting in Yemen, which borders the country to the south. A Saudi-led coalition force has backed the government against Iran-backed rivals in a bitter civil war that has seen more than 10,000 deaths.

Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Iran is at the heart of other political objectives.

Iran is flexing muscles to dominate the Middle East by funding and arming Hezbollah in Lebanon and taking the side of President Assad in war-torn Syria.

The prince supports the government in Lebanon and has spoken out against the leaders of Qatar, who he argues finance terrorists and back Iran’s moves in the region.

Deep down, the rivalry with Iran is a clash of religions and culture.

Saudi Arabia is favoured by the West as an ally. As the leader of Sunni Muslims in the Middle East, the country is trying to modernise by giving more rights to women.

Iran is the leader of the Shi’ite Muslims, who are more conservative and abide by a stricter religious code than the Sunnis.

The Saudis are backed by US President Donald Trump and most European states.

The prince is also planning to sell a stake in the state-owned Aramco oil corporation to raise $100 billion towards revitalising Saudi Arabia’s business infrastructure to move the economy away from dependence on oil and gas.

His ambitious plans include energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, while moving power towards wind and solar energy.

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