In early November 2017, nearly 400 of the most powerful figures in Saudi Arabia, including princes, senior businessmen and ministers, were arrested and detained at the Ritz-Carlton, in what has become described as the largest and most controversial purge in the modern history of the Kingdom.
The Guardian newspaper says in An exclusive report to her These arrests shook the foundations of Saudi society, and immediately turned senior, untouchable, responsible figures into targets for detention. Laws were beaten, assets seized, commercial empires wiped out, and the traditional agreement between the state and the influential elite was torn apart overnight.
Hit and intimidation
The accounts of what happened at the Ritz Hotel, which were provided through an intermediary, the newspaper says, are from some of the top Saudi businessmen, who said that they were blindfolded, and were beaten and intimidated by security officers under the supervision of two ministers, both of whom were close to the man who ordered The purge, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Former detainees, many of them stripped of their wealth, described scenes of torture and coercion, and said that the royal court’s advisors were leading chaotic attempts to understand the investments behind the wealth of the kingdom’s most powerful families, and then what they could find was seized.
They softened them
The detainees were asked if they knew why they were there: Nobody knew. Some of them were severely beaten. There were people bound by the walls in stressful positions that lasted for hours, and all of the torture was Saudis. “This was done to soften them,” the source says. “Then, the next day, investigators arrived.”
On the following day, the detainees were divided into rooms in the hotel, which a year earlier was the venue for the launch of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” plan.
Some of the detainees reported being threatened for providing private information, such as extra-marital relations or commercial dealings that would not have obtained approval even under the old regime.
Before the twenty summit
This disclosure comes after 3 years of those arrests and before the G20 summit to be held in Riyadh early next week.
The report revealed that the Ritz-Carlton arrests often began with a phone call to summon those involved to meet with the Crown Prince or King Salman himself.
Two prominent businessmen said they were asked to meet at a house and wait for an advisor from the royal court to join them. Instead, state security officials showed up, taking them to the Ritz-Carlton, where guards and senior aides waited.
A source said about the investigators, “There is a misconception that the interrogators revealed everything. They did not. In fact, they knew very little and were improvising.”
Extortion and contacts with Geneva’s banks
“They were guessing the person’s net worth. It was a blackmail. At one point they asked them to call the Geneva banking directors and ask for large sums of money. Geneva was telling the calling detainee that there was no balance in his accounts,” said the source familiar with the events inside the hotel. They believe all assets were cash. “
“Often times they had no idea what they were looking for. It became outright blackmail in some cases because some of the detainees refused to sign anything.”
Saudi officials had announced that $ 107 billion had been recovered from 87 people and returned to the Saudi Treasury, but sources who spoke to the newspaper said that the number seized was closer to only $ 28 billion.
The Guardian said that the matter was related to establishing the authority of Mohammed bin Salman in a clear and simple manner, noting that this came before the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
She added that Mohammed bin Salman’s impunity in those arrests encouraged him to order the assassination of Khashoggi, as the guards involved in the Ritz themselves were the ones who killed Khashoggi.