The purge comes amid heightened regional tensions, with Saudi Arabia and Iran facing off over a missile attack from Yemen and a political crisis in Lebanon after prime minister Saad Hariri’s shock resignation announced from Riyadh.
“A total of 208 individuals have been called in for questioning so far… Seven have been released without charge,” the Saudi information ministry said in a statement, quoting attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb.
Authorities have frozen the bank accounts of the accused and warned that assets related to the alleged corruption cases would be seized as state property, as the government appears set to widen the crackdown.
“The potential scale of corrupt practices which have been uncovered is very large,” the statement said.
“Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least USD $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.”
High-profile figures, including billionaire tycoon Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, were arrested or sacked in the crackdown — just after an anti-graft commission headed by the crown prince was established.
Prince Mohammed, the son of 81-year-old King Salman, is already seen as the country’s de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government.