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Saudi Billionaire’s Assets Hit Auction Block To Pay $11B In Debt

Riyadh

Billions of dollars in real estate assets and vehicles will be auctioned off in Saudi Arabia—all of them belonging to a single billionaire detained last year for almost $11 billion in unpaid debt.

In 2009, Maan al-Sanea’s Saad Group defaulted on debts, prompting the beginning of the end for a man who was once one of the top 100 wealthiest people in the world.

But al-Sanea isn’t one of the Saudi billionaire elite nabbed and held at the Ritz in the latest purge called an anti-corruption drive by some and a brazen attempt to fill government coffers and fund Vision 2030 by others.

Al-Sanea’s detention late last year wasn’t haphazard: Creditors had been chasing him down for years.

Now, his assets are slated for auction within a matter of weeks, and the list of assets up for sale is an extensive one.

According to Reuters, citing a Ministry brochure in some cases and other sources who have seen the list, it includes some 20 plots of land, mostly in eastern Khobar with various buildings, vehicles, equipment, building maters and other property. That may include some of the Saad Group’s over 900 vehicles, or al-Sanea’s 26 personal vehicles, which includes everything from a Rolls Royce to a Hummer.

What won’t be going on the auction block is the Saad Specialist Hospital in Khobar, according to Reuters.

All of this makes Al-Sanea a bit different that the other Saudi business elite caught up in the purge that will have raised over $100 billion for government coffers, though the original target was $300 billion. In the case of Al-Sanea, the money will be going to pay off creditors and fund the legal process.

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All told, the crown prince’s stated anti-corruption campaign ended in the subpoenaing of over 380 people. Now, over 100 have been released from custody and settlement deals are believed to be underway.

The estimated $106 billion that the government is hoping to arrange for government coffers comes at a critical time.

The purge itself didn’t do the Saudis any favors in terms of luring in foreign investors, and it’s also forced to compensate for lost oil revenue. Investors are wondering whether it’s safe to partner with Saudis who could become targets of any purge.

But with the budget deficit bursting at the seams and expected to hit $52 billion this year, the crown prince hedged his bets that he could win back jittery foreign investors. So far, the jury is still out. The secret nature of the purge itself has done little to convince investors that this is all about transparency.

By Charles Benavidez for Safehaven.com

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