Wealthy Saudi princes were tortured, blackmailed and asked to hand over money from Swiss bank deposits on the night of the beating three years ago when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was cleaning up the Saudi elite.
The November 2017 round-up at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh was officially described as cracking down on corruption but was widely viewed as a takeover by a crown prince determined to modernize the kingdom.
Speaking to the Guardian, a source described how “everyone was blindfolded and almost everyone was exposed to what Egyptian intelligence calls the night of the beating,” in which princes and tycoons were beaten and tied to the walls.
Some of the prisoners have been threatened with extramarital affairs or suspicious deals, according to inmates in the five-star prison.
However, some of MBS’s interrogators turned out to be clueless about financial matters, leading to strange inquiries to Swiss banks that arouse suspicion in Europe.
Imprisoned in luxury: The Saudi authorities arrested hundreds of top business people and royals in November 2017 and held some of them at the Ritz-Carlton Riad for several months
Behind the purge: Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as pictured, ordered the so-called “Sheikhdown,” widely viewed as a takeover
Saudi Arabia says it “recovered” up to $ 107 billion, also known as a “sheikhdown,” in the purge, but sources claimed the figure was actually only $ 28 billion.
According to one source, the interrogators “knew and winged very little” and were “hopeless” when it came to the oligarchs’ offshore assets.
‘Often times they had no idea what they were looking for. In some cases, there has been direct blackmail because some of the inmates refused to sign anything, ”they said.
While some of the unusual inquiries set off alarm bells in the Swiss banking world, some of them got through.
The Attorney General of Saudi Arabia later announced that the government had confiscated a mix of real estate, cash and trading companies from the defendants.
Some of the prisoners told confidants that they could not understand why they were being detained, as personal favors and patronage had long been accepted as part of the Saudi system.
Prince Mohammed’s attempt to improve this system and get the money back to the state sparked shock waves in Saudi business circles.
Hundreds of Saudi princes and businessmen were held in the pictured Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh in what the kingdom called an anti-corruption drive