No one is immune from the Saudi crackdown, foreign minister says

No one is immune from the Saudi crackdown, foreign minister says
PHOTO: Reuters

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has underlined that no-one is immune to the current crackdown in the country, after several arrests of top-ranking officials.

"This will increase investor confidence in Saudi Arabia because it shows we have adopted a zero tolerance policy on corruption, just as we have adopted a zero tolerance policy on terrorism, on extremism, on terror financing," Adel Al-Jubeir told CNBC Thursday.

"The crown prince has made it very clear that no prince and no minister and no high-ranking official is immune from corruption charges," he added.

Last weekend, 11 princes, four officials and several former ministers were arrested under allegations of corruption. Among those arrested was billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

According to Al-Jubeir, the Kingdom is going after those that stole money from the country's coffers. "The bottom line is: Money was stolen from the public treasury and that robbed the country's ability to invest that money for the good of its people," he said.

The arrests have sparked divisions within Saudi Arabia.

The 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who's the driving force behind the arrests as head of the anti-corruption committee, wants to modernize the way of doing business in Saudi Arabia.

However, some analysts have viewed the purge as an attempt by Bin Salman to consolidate his power ahead of his ascension to the throne when his 81-year-old father King Salman abdicates.

There is also the view that the crown prince has aimed to get rid of conservative rivals who might try to halt his plans for change in the country.

In a signal that there could be more to come in Saudi Arabia's push against corruption, the country's chief legal advisor said Sunday that the crackdown was the completion of "phase one of our anti-corruption push."

Al-Jubeir told CNBC that a sizable percentage of its budget was discovered to have been stolen, and that the government couldn't stand for this.

He believed that the international community would be pleased that Saudi Arabia is "transparent," and "has actually taken decisive action against individuals who robbed public goods."

"(It's a) hugely important step for Saudi Arabia, now foreign investors can come to Saudi Arabia and compete on equal terms." he said.

This article was first published on CNBC.

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