Room charges at the Ritz?

by on November 8, 2017 at 11:12 am in Current Affairs, Economics, Law | Permalink

The Saudi government is aiming to confiscate cash and other assets worth as much as $800 billion in its broadening crackdown on alleged corruption among the kingdom’s elite, according to people familiar with the matter.

Several prominent businessmen are among those who have been arrested in the days since Saudi authorities launched the crackdown on Saturday, by detaining more than 60 princes, officials and other prominent Saudis, according to those people and others.

The country’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, said late Tuesday that it has frozen the bank accounts of “persons of interest” and said the move is “in response to the Attorney General’s request pending the legal cases against them.”

Here is the WSJ piece, note that many of these people are being held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, now being used as a kind of high-class detention center.

1 A Truth Seeker November 8, 2017 at 11:20 am

I would like to report that I am shocked—shocked—to find that corruption and is going on Saudi Arabia.

“Here is the WSJ piece, note that many of these people are being held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, now being used as a kind of high-class detention center.”
Chileans used the National Stadium as a concentrarion camp in the early days of Pinochet’s totalitarian regime. I can not imagine Brazilians using the Maracanã Stadium as a concentration camp.

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2 Ignacio November 8, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I would like to point out that, although Pinochet’s regime was certainly authoritarian and with human rights violations, it was clearly not totalitarian. In fact, it was only after he was in power that we got private universities not controlled by the State or the Church, and the expansion of private (charter) schools to the middle class, as well as the expansion of the market so you did not have to ask for favor from your political patron to get decent jobs in big companies.

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3 A Truth Seeker November 8, 2017 at 12:14 pm

“In fact, it was only after he was in power that we got private universities not controlled by the State or the Church, and the expansion of private (charter) schools to the middle class, as well as the expansion of the market so you did not have to ask for favor from your political patron to get decent jobs in big companies.”

Red China has all that and more. So has Iran. So has Brazil under Doctor Vargas fascist regime.

Also the 10 first years of Pinichet’s rule set the country back decades – only in the early 90’s its economy achieved the same ratio of per capit GDP to the average Latin American per capita GDP it enjoyed when Allende (catstrophical as he was) was president.

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4 Sebastião Thomaz November 8, 2017 at 12:42 pm

China and Iran are kinda totalitarian

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5 A Truth Seeker November 8, 2017 at 12:57 pm

So was Chile. Chileans and Japanese are inherently totalitarian. The only non-fascist Japanese are the (very minoritary) communists. It is better to be a communist than a fascist? I don’t think so.

6 A clockwork orange November 8, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Besides, Kenneth put on some weight over the last year and takes pride in the strength of his thyroid. Not just in his belly as often happens to those men who develop a paunch when they grow older than thirty and upsell a new found punching weight. Kenneth simply grew horizontal from his bones, so to speak, and though conspicuous, it did not change his habit of shaving his square jaw.

7 Ignacio November 8, 2017 at 4:25 pm

I hate having to defend Pinochet, but I am pesky and want to point out that, although authoritarian, the regime was not totalitarian and actually commenced a liberalization process that makes us today a very free society.

I am not sure Red China has what we have and had in Chile, and a totalitarian government is the one that controls all aspects of life. With Pinochet, the country began a liberalization of education, economy and other factors that remains and has expanded today. I am not saying that it was fully democratic, but certainly not close to totalitarianism.

I am not sure where you get your statistics about per capita GDP under Allende and Pinochet. During the first year of Allende, the government (which controlled most of the economy) overspent to the point that in 1973 we had 700% inflation, scarcity, long lines for basic goods (much like Venezuela today). I lived in Chile in the 1970s and 1980s and I can tell you that the role of the government during those first years was simply to stabilize the country. In the early 1970s our per capita GDP was average in comparison to Latin America; by the 1990s, our per capita was among the top in the continent, approaching Argentina’s (which we surpassed later).

I am not going to continue posting. I am sure that if anyone is interested, they can research this matter.

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8 Thor November 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Thanks for this.

Pinochet was a monster on various levels, and we should be glad for Chileans that he and his ilk (hopefully) are out of the picture in Chile, but we should not let us blind this to his achievements. I am tired of my progressive friends giving Castro a pass when he was not only more totalitarian than Pinochet, but didn’t even attempt to put Cuba on a firmer economic footing, which we can at least say about Pinochet.

9 So Much For Subtlety November 8, 2017 at 5:31 pm

Pinochet was not a monster on any level. He saved Chile. He did so with minimal bloodshed. He deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

10 A Truth Seeker November 8, 2017 at 11:21 am

I would like to report that I am shocked—shocked—to find that corruption reppression are going on in Saudi Arabia.

“Here is the WSJ piece, note that many of these people are being held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, now being used as a kind of high-class detention center.”
Chileans used the National Stadium as a concentrarion camp in the early days of Pinochet’s totalitarian regime. I can not imagine Brazilians using the Maracanã Stadium as a concentration camp.

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11 Ray Lopez November 8, 2017 at 11:34 am

Significant to me is this (Wikipedia): “Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is the son of King Salman, and thus from the ruling House of Saud.[2] …The monarchy was hereditary by agnatic seniority until 2006, when a royal decree provided that future Saudi kings are to be elected by a committee of Saudi princes…. King Salman first choose his nephew and then his son[Mohammad bin Salman] as a crown prince without any consulation with Allegiance Council. … The family is estimated to comprise 15,000 members, but the majority of the power and wealth is possessed by a group of only about 2,000”

And a House of Saud prince near the Yeman border supposedly crashed in a helicopter about a week ago, which seems to be a favored assassination technique all over the world (e.g., Columbia, Chile).

Bonus trivia: Mohammad bin Salman is 35 years old; for you older readers, think about how much you knew at age 35, how ideological you were, how much hormones played a role in your thinking. How much experience can this guy have to run a country? In my mind, he’s just being fueled by testosterone, and is thinking like the young Stalin, “might makes right”, “kill my enemies” and the like. Brute force is driving this guy, and with an eye to how Trump operates.

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12 A Truth Seeker November 8, 2017 at 12:05 pm

To be fair, the young Stalin (managing bank robberies for the Bolsheviks in his 30s or sidelining Trotsky and crushing the kulaks in his 40s) was not worse than the old Stalin invading Finalnd in his 60s or purging Jews in his 70s. A leopard can’t change its spots. As Lenin said about Stalin, “his cook will make only peppery dishes”. According to Trotsky, Stalin was plotting even while Lenin still lived.

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13 The Other Jim November 8, 2017 at 12:50 pm

>with an eye to how Trump operates.

That guy just lives rent-free in your head 24/7, doesn’t he?

How does that feel?

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14 JWatts November 8, 2017 at 6:30 pm

LOL, well give Ray credit. He didn’t go with the tired trope of comparing Trump to Hitler.

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15 Pshrnk November 8, 2017 at 10:26 pm

Some day they will compare Hitler to Trump

DJT

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16 Ann Ominous November 8, 2017 at 11:42 am

$800 billion is roughly Saudi Arabia’s annual gross national income. They’ve joined Venezuela in the exclusive club of having non-tax asset confiscations larger than the actual economy this year.

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17 chuck martel November 8, 2017 at 11:56 am

News reports make it appear that the prince is trying to drag Saudi Arabia into the 21st century by targeting the Wahhabi fundamentalists who are coincidentally also among the most wealthy in the country, basically the Puritans of the Middle East. US concern over this revolves around the inability of predicting the future of the desert kingdom. US foreign policy is predicated on stability. Facts on the ground, at least as perceived, must never change, even if the status quo is unsatisfactory to those most involved. The prince has been so audacious as to allow women to drive, a sure sign that chaos has arrived.

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18 Ray Lopez November 8, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Maybe, but keep in mind that ‘anti-corruption’ is a buzzword given to western media to justify strongman tactics. Stalin did it too. And so is China’s current president Xi.

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19 chuck martel November 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

“Corruption” is an English word used to translate an Arabic word that might have a different nuance. Just as the Eskimos supposedly have twenty different words for “snow”, the Arabs might very well have many more ways of designating their manifold varieties of corruption.

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20 Thor November 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm

I hear that one of their words for corruption is “government”.

Unfortunately for the region, another problem is the word “democracy” means “enrich my tribe.”

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21 Troll Me November 8, 2017 at 9:22 pm

I doubt that any of the major cultural groupings of the world are lacking in words to express diverse forms of corruption.

What differs is the actualized freedom to speak out openly, and then also the ability to act in recognition of a situation involving much corruption that is to be dealt with in ideally sensible manners.

A trend in recent years in many Western countries is for whistleblowers, a cornerstone of any anti-corruption aspirations, to be increasingly targeted with increasingly advanced neuroweaponry, mobbing/Zersetzung-style tactics, etc. We are not lacking in words to express what we all know can be, in a human society, in terms of corruption.

But when such words are met with retaliation that is often compounded by the state, not reduced by it, then we can only expect things to trend in the worse direction, and whether you want to call that “more Arab” or some other thing, the problem remains the same.

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22 JWatts November 9, 2017 at 12:01 pm

“A trend in recent years in many Western countries is for whistleblowers, a cornerstone of any anti-corruption aspirations, to be increasingly targeted with increasingly advanced neuroweaponry, mobbing/Zersetzung-style tactics, etc”

Where is this happening? Because, frankly, it sounds kind of delusional.

23 Matthew Young November 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Government by fortune swapping.

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24 Meets November 8, 2017 at 12:23 pm

This isn’t about corruption (although they have plenty)

It’s about declining oil wealth

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25 Bill November 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm

It can be both, and it can also be amassing power so as to minimize resistance. He must have made a lot of enemies; he better hope he has folks who are loyal to him. Is it loyalty, or the opportunity to take later that motivates loyalty.

Saudi redistributionism.

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26 Bill November 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm

A principal owner of the Four Seasons is now incarcerated at a Ritz-Carlton. Justice served!

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27 carlospln November 8, 2017 at 10:50 pm

“Mystery Shopper”

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28 Boris_Badenoff November 8, 2017 at 4:01 pm

If you are to be imprisoned, there is something to be said for being confined in a facility with amenities like room service.

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29 BrianK November 8, 2017 at 9:30 pm

Somewhat similar to the plot of a recent novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles.

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30 Anonymous November 8, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Won’t this tarnish the brand? I mean sure, a prison for princes, but still a prison.

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31 So Much For Subtlety November 8, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Come for the restraints, stay for the service. It could be an inspired advertising campaign. Perhaps reaching a very niche audience.

Nine out of ten White collar criminals voted us the best five stars in Saudi Arabia.

Don’t reach out and touch someone. Especially in the showers.

Where do you want to go today?

The Ritz: It is not more choice. It is no choice at all. The Ritz: Not connecting people.

I’d walk a mile for a Camel.

And of course I am not even going to think about “If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.”

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32 Tom T. November 8, 2017 at 8:08 pm

When I was traveling for work somewhere in the Midwest recently, my hotel featured keycards with gnomic sayings, and mine read, “the lock on the door is not there to keep you in.” Apparently that’s not the case at the Riyadh Ritz.

(This was super creepy, by the way. What the hell is the lock for, then? What’s out there?)

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33 john byrne November 8, 2017 at 8:42 pm

one way to make up for lost revenues due to the fall in barrel price of oil ?

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34 Ali Choudhury November 9, 2017 at 7:51 am

If he is confiscating assets, MBS is storing up a lot of trouble for the future. Family members may eventually forgive and forget if their patriarch is imprisoned or executed. Definitely will not do so if the responsible party also grabs the family fortune.

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