Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General has said a “great deal of evidence” has already been gathered in the biggest anti-corruption crackdown on the country’s powerful and wealthy in its modern history.
Thirty-two-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has led a purge resulting in the detention of dozens of politicians, businessmen and a number of senior princes, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
One official told Reuters it was just “phase one” of the clampdown.
Saudi stocks wavered after the arrests, but then recovered as the move was seen as strengthening the Crown Prince’s authority and his ability to implement economic reforms.
CNBC correspondent in Riyadh, Hadley Gamble, added:
“This is really about Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, solidifying his power base and at the same time taking out corruption as well.
“He is showing that no one is above the law, be they billionaire investors, members of the Royal family or even government ministers. This is something of course that fits in with his economic agenda here in Saudi Arabia.
“He’s been moving at record speed taking on the religious establishment, taking on conservatives who say women shouldn’t be allowed to drive.
“He’s also of course been really allowing young people – half of the population here of course under the age of 25 – a real hope for the future and the bigger question of course is whether or not this actions of the last 24h are going to scare away foreign investment that the Crown Prince knows he needs to change this country’s economy.”