WASHINGTON - The US Treasury Department has released a breakdown of Saudi Arabia’s holdings of US debt, ending a longstanding policy of keeping the figures secret that had been in place for more than 41 years. 

The stockpile of the world’s biggest oil exporter stood at $116.8 billion as of March, up from $82.7b two years earlier, Bloomberg News reported.

The sum ranks the kingdom among the top dozen foreign nations in terms of holdings of US debt, and compares with China’s $1.2 trillion trove, and $1.1 trillion for Japan.

“The politics has always been secretive, so have their finances,” said David Ottaway, a Middle East Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, a research institute in Washington.

Meanwhile, the US Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that would allow survivors and relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks to file lawsuits seeking damages against the government of Saudi Arabia.

The legislation, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, passed in the Senate by unanimous voice vote.

If it passes the House of Representatives and is signed into law by US President Barack Obama, JASTA would allow lawsuits to proceed in federal court in New York as lawyers try to prove that the Saudis were involved in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Yet the disclosure may bring more questions than answers, because Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves amount to $587 billion, and central banks typically put about two-thirds of their coffers in dollars, according to International Monetary Fund data. Some nations accumulate Treasuries in offshore financial centers, meaning the holdings show up under the data of other countries. For example, Belgium, which held $143 billion of US government debt as of February, is home to Chinese custodial accounts, Bloomberg News said, quoting analysts.

Now the question of Saudi holdings is gaining importance as the monarchy faces fiscal pressure from the decline in oil prices since 2014 and costly wars in the Middle East, Bloomberg added.