Saudi Arabia Said to Set Up Entity for Assets Taken in Probe

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia is setting up an organization to manage assets relinquished by detainees as part of settlement agreements in the crackdown on alleged corruption, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The kingdom is talking to consultants about how to set up the entity, which will evaluate and potentially sell holdings handed over by billionaires and princes in exchange for their freedom, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

Hani Halawani, head of direct investments at Sanabil Investments, part of the Public Investment Fund, will help run the organization, the people said. The government’s Center for International Communication didn’t respond to a request for comment. Halawani didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Saudi authorities are hoping to reach agreements with detainees “within weeks” after the arrests at the beginning of November, according to the kingdom’s attorney general. Authorities could recover as much as $100 billion from the settlement deals, according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, one of the most senior Saudi royals detained in the crackdown, was released at the end of November after reaching a settlement deal believed to exceed the equivalent of $1 billion, an official involved in the campaign said at the time.

Swiss Banks

Some of Switzerland’s largest banks have in recent weeks flagged suspicious account activity to the Swiss money laundering office, according to two other people familiar with the matter. 

Citigroup Inc., UBS Group AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG are among international banks managing the largest share of assets for wealthy Saudis, some of whom are being investigated as part the probe, people familiar with the matter said last month.  Swiss financial regulator Finma is said to be in touch with some of the country’s banks over their business with Saudi clients.

A spokesman for Pictet, the Geneva-based private bank, said the lender is monitoring the situation closely, while UBS and Credit Suisse declined to comment. The Swiss money laundering reporting office, known as MROS, didn’t comment.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.