REPORT: SAUDI KING TO STEP DOWN NEXT WEEK… Crown demands 70% of detainee wealth for freedom
- King Salman of Saudi Arabia is planning to step down next week and name his son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as his successor, a source told DailyMail.com
- They added: ‘King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title “Custodian of the Holy Shrines”
- Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, ordered the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe in early November
- The Saudi royals were photographed sleeping on bare mattresses on the floor of the luxury Ritz Carlton hotel
- Once crowned king, the prince will shift his focus to Iran, a long standing rival oil empire to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, the source said
The move is seen as the final step in 32-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s power grab, which began earlier this month with the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe.
The source said King Salman will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead, handing over official leadership of the country to his son – often referred to as MBS.
‘Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week,’ said the source.
‘King Salman will play the role of the queen of England. He will only keep the title “Custodian of the Holy Shrines”.’
Authorities in Saudi Arabia are offering businessmen and members of the royal family detained on allegations of corruption an opportunity to pay for their freedom, according to media reports.
Around 200 princes, ministers, senior military officers and wealthy businessmen have been held in five-star hotels across the country since last week, many of them at the opulent Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.
Quoting “people briefed on the discussions”, the Financial Times reported that the Saudi government was demanding up to 70% of the individuals’ wealth in return for their freedom.
If settlements are agreed, hundreds of billions of dollars would be diverted into the country’s depleted coffers. Saudi Arabia recorded a budget deficit of $79bn last year and low oil prices have pushed the country into a recession.
The arrests were ordered by King Salman via his son and heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Their crackdown appears to be popular with Saudis who believe their country is plagued by corruption among members of the royal family and well-connected businessmen.