Saudi king calls for anti-corruption units five months into purge


Critics say promises of transparency in the anti-corruption drive have not been kept, which is likely to make investors more nervous about doing business in the Kingdom, fearful that joint enterprises could be seized or vital business partners arrested without warning.

Financial advisers and associates of the detainees have told the New York Times that numerous assets of those detained have yet to be seized and most of those already seized are domestic real estate and shares of companies that could take years to liquidate.

According to an update of the MSCI proposal published in February, Saudi Arabia would have a market capitalization of US$124 billion in MSCI's Emerging Markets Index, giving it an index weight of 2.3 per cent, on a par with Thailand.

According to the newspaper, the 17 detainees were hospitalised after facing abuse, while one Saudi general died in custody. That came mostly in the form of land, stakes in businesses, and other assets rather than cash. One person who saw the corpse of the officer, Maj. Officials questioned by the paper under strict conditions of anonymity revealed that a doctor and two other people briefed on the condition of the body of Al-Qahtani reported that it had burn marks that appeared to be from electric shocks.

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Saudi officials did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment, but the New York Times quoted the government rejecting the abuse claims as "completely untrue".

The former detainees were quoted by the newspaper as saying that numerous released are being forced to wear tracking devices on their ankles.

"I would guess it is about evens that there will be no global IPO", said a high-level source familiar with the preparations, saying they were proving to be a disappointment.

General Qahtani was a top aide to Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah and a former governor of Riyadh.

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The government on Sunday said Saudi King Salman had ordered the creation of specialised anti-corruption units in the public prosecutor's office to investigate and prosecute graft cases.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is "pleasant, open-minded, cultured and visionary", Coptic Pope Tawadros II said in a Monday statement. The official added that the detainees had "full access" to legal counsel and medical care.

The kingdom has never publicly provided an explanation of the general's death.

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