A Saudi investor inspecting the stock exchange monitors at the Saudi Stock Exchange in Riyadh on December 14, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (12:00 PM) – Saudi Arabia has reportedly frozen the bank accounts of over 1,200 Saudi citizens and corporations, amidst a heavy crackdown ordered by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. The massive purges of the kingdom’s elite is officially named an anti-graft campaign.

The central bank of Saudi Arabia is reported to have been increasing the blacklist of frozen accounts on a nearly hourly basis since Sunday, according to Reuters.

Dozens of princes, ministers and former politicians were detainees on Saturday by order of the so-called Anti-Corruption Committee headed by the Crown Prince himself. However, the crackdown is widely believed to be mostly a consolidation of the heir apparent’s power over the country.

The imprisoned, among whom are billionaire and Kingdom Holding chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Al Tayyar Travel Group founder Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar and chairman of builder Red Sea International construction company Amr al-Dabbagh, are accused of money laundering, bribery, extorting officials and misappropriation of public office.

Interestingly, the Saudi authorities have announced that all economical assets seized from those found guilty will be confiscated as state property. Even a no-fly list has reportedly been drawn up, and security forces have been deployed in order to prevent private jet owners from leaving the kingdom.

The way Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has been purging any possible opposition have many analysts believing that Saudi Arabia is going for an unprecedented degree of centralised power that has never before been seen in the kingdom.

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Historian specialized in Arab history, Islamic studies and geopolitical analysis. Based in Belgium.

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You can call me AL

I understand that they have been “removed”, mostly still alive, but when you say “imprisoned”; that does give a rather false perception.

They are actually under “hotel arrest” – I thought they were in the “The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh ” ……wow, shocking.