Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption crackdown 'raises a few concerns': Tillerson

02:37 PM | 10 Nov, 2017
Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption crackdown 'raises a few concerns': Tillerson
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DANANG, VIETNAM - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday said that action launched by Saudi Arabia against elites accused of corruption "raises a few concerns".

Talking to media before reaching in the Danang, city in Vietnam, he called the anti-graft crackdown of Saudi Arabia was "well intended", adding that Washington was closely monitoring the investigation launched by the Gulf state into alleged misappropriation involving $100 billion.

He is accompanying President Donald Trump to the APEC summit in Vietnam.

"My own view is that it does, it raises a few concerns until we see more clearly how these particular individuals are dealt with," he said.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia arrested 11 princes and dozens of current and former ministers in a sweeping crackdown as the kingdom’s young crown prince consolidates power.

According to the country’s media, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves in the kingdom.

The anti-corruption purge, which Saudi Arabia says a probe against estimated $100 billion embezzlement, was reported immediately after a new anti-corruption commission, headed by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was established by royal decree late Saturday.

The purge comes as regional tensions constrain, with Saudi Arabia and Iran squabbling over a failed missile attack against Riyadh airport on Saturday, that was claimed by Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen.

A political crisis is also unfolding in Lebanon after prime minister Saad Hariri announced his shock resignation in a speech from Riyadh, citing Iran´s "grip" on his country and threats to his life.

Regarding the purgge, Tillerson said: "How disruptive it´s going to be remains to be seen".

"It´s my understanding that they´re characterizing these as not really arrests at this point but they´re presenting people with evidence of what they think the wrongdoing is to see if there´s a willingness to want to make things right," he added.

"So how they choose to deal with it at this point is still a bit unclear but I wouldn´t want to read more than what we know at this point."