Here’s why Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdullah’s still held

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Time: July 11, 2018

Saudi Arabia has arrested a defense ministry official on charges of receiving a $267,000 bribe and abusing his position, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

“The official sought to facilitate irregular procedures for the disbursement of financial dues to a company, taking advantage of his professional influence,” a statement quoted Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mujib as saying.

Following a November 2017 Saudi corruption crackdown involving 381 corruption suspects, including 200 top business executives and investors, Saudi royals and government personalities, more than 2,000 bank accounts were frozen, and around $100bn were recovered in real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets.

Reuters said that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as defense minister, told a U.S. newspaper in February 2018, that the purge was like chemotherapy of “the cancer of corruption”.

Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdullah, son of late King Abdullah and a former governor of Riyadh, has spent the last 9 months detained, 5 of which in the glitzy Riyadh Ritz-Carlton hotel.

56 people are still in Saudi government custody, awaiting trial, after failing to be exonerated or reach financial settlements with the government, including Prince Turki.

We are wondering why he is still detailed. Are you?

 Chequered past

In late March, American pop singer, Cher, has tweeted her support for the royal, appealing to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to “be kind … and let him go”.

It didn’t happen.

Perhaps too many incidents of corruption needed investigation

Incident 1

Back in 2013, the Financial Times reported the U.S. Department of Justice was looking into the relationship between London-based Barclays and Prince Turki bin Abdullah, who then occupied the powerful post of governor of Riyadh.

The EU Reporter, a European business site, said the Justice Department wanted to know if Barclays violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that forbids bribes or gifts in kind in return for lucrative business.

“The inquiry is centered around an incident that occurred in 2002 involving Barclays and (prince) Turki. The Prince’s company, Al-Obayya Corp. has for years acted as the local partner for foreign companies seeking to expand into the complicated and opaque Saudi market,” said EU Reporter.

It explained that Barclays was under investigation for payments to Turki through Al Obayya to destroy the creditworthiness of Saudi philanthropist and businessman Sheikh Mohammed bin Issa Al Jaber, whose construction company, Jadawel, had built two city compounds near Riyadh and Al Khobar in the Eastern Province in the 1990s used to house US military personnel.

“In 2002, the Saudi government defaulted on payments to Al Jaber, resulting in the collapse of the credit structure of close to a billion dollars that involved a consortium of Japanese, British, German and American banks,” said EU Reporter.

“Investigators in Riyadh have identified Turki bin Abdullah and Ibrahim Al-Assaf as major beneficiaries of the inexplicable decision by the Saudi government to default,” the EU media added.

Incident 2

A second incident involving Prince Turki, also co-founder of Petrosaudi, has to do with his company being embroiled in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

The United States, according to EU Reporter, was investigating a multi-billion-dollar embezzlement of public funds in this project.

“Saudi authorities also accuse Turki of taking advantage of his influence as governor of Riyadh to take a huge commission in the costly project to construct the city’s urban train network,” said the EU Reporter.

The reference was for the biggest rail project that Saudi is still currently building, the Riyadh Metro, where more than 43,000 construction workers are employed.

Rumblings in Metro matters

Incident 3

Prince Turki was one of the 11 princes detained as a part of the anti-corruption drive, and is accused of corruption in the Riyadh Metro project and taking advantage of his influence to award contracts to his own companies, according to Reuters.

This article was first published in AMEinfo

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