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Lionel Laurent

Shaking Down Saudi Princes Is Harder Than You Think

Crackdown won't yield oil-scale billions, but there are other benefits.
Saudi Official Says at Least $100 Billion Misused Over Decades
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia's unprecedented corruption crackdown -- worth anywhere from $100 billion to $800 billion, depending on who you ask -- makes wringing money from rich princes look as lucrative as extracting oil from the desert.

Similar figures are bandied about for the initial public offering of the state-owned oil company. Aramco's listing is expected to raise $100 billion to fund big economic changes in Saudi Arabia without toppling the established order. Why sell more national jewels when you can just soak the rich?