Saudi Arabia Recovers Billions in Anti-graft Drive, Says Finance Minister

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia’s Finance Minister has said that the two month old anti-graft campaign has recovered billions of dollars from citizens alleged to have defrauded or embezzled money from the Kingdom.

Speaking at the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, The Minister declined to confirm reports that the government had netted $100 billion from the anti-graft campaign that targeted royalty, ministers, high ranking military officers and senior civil servants. Al-Jadaan told the Davos forum that he could not specify the figures, but he acknowledged that the campaign has helped in recovering some ill-gotten funds.

Al-Jadaan went on to say that all are equal before the law and that is why they embarked on the anti-graft campaign. He said the persons they were investigating are smart individuals who didn’t stash their loot in bank accounts. He therefore explained that they may not necessarily recover cash, but he expects that valuable assets both within and outside the Kingdom will be recovered.

The Finance Minister went on to say that the recovered assets will be used to pay for items of national expenditure so all citizens of the Kingdom will benefit rather than a select few.

Al-Jadaan was speaking at a Forum event entitled “Building Saudi Arabia’s future economy.” That session featured top economic policymakers such as Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of private US equity investor Blackstone.

In his contribution, Schwarzman said that it is incredible what is going on in Saudi Arabia. He said reform in the Kingdom is happening so fast and it is so bold. He said that all the things that are regarded as best practice in the world were not in the Kingdom before but he is optimistic that they will now be in place.

Schwarzman believes that economic growth and other good things happen when you have highly intelligent, informed and reform-oriented individuals in government.

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning in charge of the Kingdom’s $200 billion privatization program, Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said there were three challenges with the ongoing transformation program in Saudi Arabia, namely cutting down dependency on oil, the communication channels necessary for the outside world to participate in it, and finally, the cost involved.

For the execution part, Al-Tuwaijri, believes that the next two years will be crucial as many projects will be implemented.

Minister of Commerce and Investment, Majid Al-Qasabi said that the Vision 2030 is “an ambitious and proactive blueprint.” He added that in the past, they had lacked the culture of planning, but that has now changed. He noted that they are now able to offer potential investors opportunities that are based on a friendly investment climate.

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