Egyptian billionaire denounces Saudi corruption crackdown
December 01 2017 06:12 PM
Naguib Sawiris
"Everyone with a conscience should speak out", said Sawiris

Reuters/Rome

* Sawiris says Saudi purge unlawful, dangerous
* Businessman says others too frightened to speak out


Egyptian billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris condemned on Friday a crackdown on graft in Saudi Arabia, saying the purge had undermined the rule of law in the Kingdom and would deter investment.

Saudi security forces rounded up dozens of members of the country's political and business elite last month on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in what was billed as a war on rampant corruption.

In unusually outspoken comments, Sawiris, a well-known business figure in North Africa and the Middle East said influential figures should stand up to the Crown Prince, whom he referred to as "this young man".
"We need to tell him 'no'. There is the rule of law and order. You have a transparent process. Where is the court? What is the evidence? Who is the judge?" he told a conference in Rome, questioning the Crown Prince's motives.
"Are you not part of this? Where did you get your money? Didn't you do this? What is the system?" he said.
Critics say Prince Mohammed’s purge is aimed at shoring up his own power base, which the Saudi government denies.
Sawiris, whose family's Orascom businesses have interests ranging from construction to telecommunications, said "everyone with a conscience" should speak out, but added that many were too frightened to do so.
"Everyone is scared because they have interests there, they have the oil, they have the money. But you need to have a conscience. When I say this, I know I am done-for in Saudi Arabia. No more business (there). Ok, I don't care."
A monthly Reuters poll published on Thursday showed Middle East fund managers had become more positive towards Saudi Arabian equities after an initial market sell-off following the launch of the anti-graft drive.
But Sawiris, who is not known to have major investments in Saudi Arabia, predicted business leaders would steer clear of the country in future.
"I think after what happened in Saudi Arabia, no one will invest there," he said.



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