For those who had not been paying attention to the rise of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his recent dramatic detention of fellow princes and other senior figures over corruption allegations came out of the blue.
But amid some pretty tough competition for the world's attention — a quasi-coup in Zimbabwe, more Brexit tumult — he has kept up the momentum ever since. On Thursday it emerged that the Saudi authorities were seeking vast sums — up to $300bn — in exchange for dropping charges relating to the alleged $100bn corruption racket.
It is against that background that two people close to the situation confirm the existence of deepening but secret talks between the Saudi government and the Swiss banking sector. Precise information about the whys and wherefores is scant. But there are several plausible reasons for the contact.
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The most obvious relates directly to the corruption probe. As Prince Mohammed, or MbS as he is widely known, consolidates his power base, he is keen to ensure those he seeks to weaken cannot skirt his crackdown through offshore routes. If MbS is indeed asking the Swiss banks for information on Saudi clients, it is far from certain that the pitch could succeed.
The US authorities did strong-arm Swiss banks into handing over client information — and extracted $5.5bn in penalties and compensation over the affair — but only because clients had breached US tax rules requiring the disclosure of offshore accounts. Saudi Arabia, which levies no taxes, could not use similar grounds as leverage.
The Saudis are already in contact with the likes of Credit Suisse and UBS in relation to the prospective flotation of national oil group Saudi Aramco. Two of the four shortlisted locations for Aramco's listing are in Asia (Hong Kong and Tokyo), where the Swiss banks have dominant operations, particularly with the region's ultra-rich.
But a third possible Swiss connection is that the Saudis are potential investors in the country, and specifically in Credit Suisse. This is part of the flipside of the Aramco story. The kingdom is keen to diversify its investment exposures away from oil. And the forecast proceeds of up to $100bn from Aramco's float would fund a fair few alternative investments.