Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview published Thursday that the Ritz Carlton incident in 2017 was the government cracking down on corruption based on King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s instructions.
In November 2017, the opulent hotel became negotiation center as part of a crackdown on corruption launched by Saudi authorities. Members of the business and political elite were detained, some chose the negotiation path and others were turned to public prosecution.
Asked on why a high-profile hotel was used for the investigation the Crown Prince told American magazine The Atlantic the reason was because those investigated were not under arrest. They were given two options: to negotiate settlements or be turned to public prosecution.
“Almost 95 percent chose the negotiation path. So up to that part they’re not criminals, we cannot put them in jail. They agreed to stay in the Ritz-Carlton to negotiate, to close the negotiation. And I believe that almost 90 percent of the negotiations have been closed. The rest, the ones who refused to negotiate, they turned to public prosecution based on Saudi law,” he said.
Western critics have claimed that the Ritz Carlton incident was intended to eliminate “rivals” of the Crown Prince, to which he said: “Rivals don’t exist in the first place to have a need to eliminate them by putting them in the Ritz Carlton. How can you eliminate people who don’t have any power to begin with.”
The Crown Prince highlighted that the operation was based on the King’s instructions in 2015 to “get rid of corruption”.
He also noted that the operation was successful in discouraging anyone from choosing the path of corruption in the Kingdom in the future.
“[It] was a strong signal. And then some people thought Saudi Arabia was, you know, just trying to get the big whales, the good big, corrupted whales. But I believe [by] 2019 to 2020, they understood even if you steal $100, you're going to pay for it,” he added.