Saudi's King Salman to hand crown to son next week

2012 Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef left his older brother Saud bin Nayef center Prince Miteb bin Abdullah son of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud wait for

Saudi Arabia's so-called anti-corruption crackdown escalated last week when around 200 individuals were arrested and placed under arrest at the order of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The person said some had begun to hand over assets: "They are making settlements with most of those in the Ritz [Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where they are being held]", they said. An estimated 1,700 bank accounts have been frozen.

China supports Saudi Arabia's efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and achieve greater development, President Xi Jinping told Saudi Arabia's King Salman, at a time of regional tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen.

Among those arrested was billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom's most prominent businessmen. As well as paying up, detained royals are likely also to be asked to make promises of loyalty, they said.

The FT said many of those detained were keen to secure their release by signing over cash and corporate assets.

Royal family members have long received undisclosed monthly stipends from state coffers built up during years of higher oil prices. Prices fell sharply in 2014, and in 2015 the International Monetary Fund predicted Saudi could run out of resources within five years, if its rate of spending and the oil price slump continued.

Saudi authorities said they have questioned 208 people in an anti-corruption investigation and estimate that at least $100bn has been stolen through fraud, an official said last week, as the inquiry expanded beyond the kingdom's borders into the United Arab Emirates. "So this was the most dignified solution he could find".

The young prince has been credited for the country's recent repeal of a law banning women from driving and has been hailed as a reformer in the ultra conservative kingdom.

The crown prince told the Guardian last month that he wished to "return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam", breaking the alliance between Wahhabi clerics and the country's ruling elite.

Seventy per cent of Saudi Arabia's population are under the age of 30.

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