Saudi Arabia’s so-called crackdown on corruption has kept dozens of jets worth hundreds of millions of dollars stuck on the ground, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Roughly 70 aircraft, ranging from small private jets to commercial airline-sized planes, are stranded at several airports across Saudi Arabia, including in Riyadh and Jeddah, sources told the news agency.
Some jets belong to affluent Saudis who either face travel bans or are reluctant to fly the planes because they are wary of displays of wealth that might be seen as taunting the Saudi government, two unidentified sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Sources told Reuters that Saudi Arabia seized some of the jets in settlements after the government launched a crackdown in late 2017 in which dozens of princes, businessmen and even government officials were detained.
Most of the ultra-wealthy detainees were held at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel in November 2017 and were reportedly beaten and tortured to reveal their bank account details.
The stranded planes, owned by the country’s elite, highlight the latest effect on private industry of the Gulf kingdom’s purge.
After most of the princes and tycoons were released, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said that more than $106bn had been seized from 381 Saudi citizens, according to a statement.