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Saudi Arabia's jailing & torture of businessmen ‘creative and efficient’ – Morgan Stanley boss

Saudi Arabia's jailing & torture of businessmen ‘creative and efficient’ – Morgan Stanley boss
The detention of scores of Saudi royals and businessmen in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, where some were reportedly tortured, may be one of the most creative and efficient ways of tackling corruption, according to Morgan Stanley.

The Wall Street investment bank’s CEO and chairman James Gorman added that businesses should not be dissuaded from engaging with Riyadh despite last year’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was utterly unacceptable,” Gorman said during a panel at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

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“But what do you do? What part do you play in the process of economic and social change?” he continued.

“There are many countries that are tackling corruption issues in lots of creative ways. That is certainly one of the most creative. You could argue one of the most efficient,” Gorman said to a laughing audience.

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan who was present at the discussion panel said the kingdom was “absolutely sad” about Khashoggi’s killing.

“Knock on any door in Saudi Arabia and people will tell you how sad they are," he said, adding that what had happened had been “alien to our DNA” and “totally against our beliefs, culture and religion.”

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Meanwhile, Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, accused the WEF of helping to “normalize” Saudi Arabia's actions.

“As if hundreds of the country’s business and media leaders weren’t just arbitrarily jailed – with some tortured, one killed – and forced to forfeit their assets in a massive shakedown of $100 billion, outside of any apparent legal process,” she said.

Two years ago, the swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Saudi capital was turned into a prison for the royal elite accused by the ruling regime of corruption. Hundreds of people, including businessmen, officials and 17 princes were arrested as part of the purge which reportedly aimed to recoup as much as $100 billion from them.

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The arrests were led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who claimed the move was an attempt to reform the Saudi economy and stamp out corruption. Bin Salman's critics claim it was a move to cement his power.

Among the detained were billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, owner of global investor Kingdom Holding, and Waleed al-Ibrahim, who controls influential regional broadcaster MBC.

Alwaleed, who is the nephew of Saudi King Salman, was ranked as the world’s 64th richest man, and was once dubbed the ‘Arabian Warren Buffett’.

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