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Saudi Arabia to reopen luxury hotel after being used as prison in corruption purge

The reopening of the hotel suggested that the authorities are close to settling the cases of many suspects.

Dozens of princes, senior officials and top businessmen were detained and confined in the opulent Ritz-Carlton

Riyadh as the government launched the purge in early November.

The hotel was closed to normal business.

On Monday, an employee at the office taking bookings for the hotel, who declined to be named, told Reuters by telephone that bookings by the public would be accepted from Feb. 14.

The hotel’s website now accepts bookings from Feb. 14, quoting a rate for its cheapest room of 2,439 riyals (650 dollars) a night.

Official sources said that Saudi authorities were close to winding up a major part of the crackdown, which would allow them to return the Ritz-Carlton to normal operations.

NAN reports that the Saudi government anti-corruption campaign began Nov. 15, 2017 and has swept up more than 200 people, including senior government officials, prominent businessmen and members of the ruling family.

The investigation is being led by a newly established anti-corruption agency headed by the kingdom’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who is pushing to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy as well as its conservative society.

The detainees, who face accusations that range from procurement fraud to money laundering and bribery, were given the option by Saudi authorities of relinquishing part of their wealth in exchange for freedom rather than going to court.

The government already freed in the past month several of those arrested after they agreed to surrender a part of their assets.

That included Prince Miteb Abdullah, the most politically influential royal detained in the campaign who was once seen as a leading contender to the throne, after he agreed to pay over $1 billion to settle corruption allegations against him.

The anti-graft campaign has largely been welcomed in Saudi Arabia, where many people are angry at what they see as rampant corruption among the wealthy.

It has helped burnish Prince Mohammed’s popular image as a champion of fairness, though some analysts and observers outside the kingdom see the crackdown as part of a centralisation of power in the hands of the young crown prince.

He became next in line to the throne this summer.

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