Friday, 18 October, 2019

Saudi billionaire prince Al-Waleed freed from detention in corruption crackdown

Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal looks on during a news briefing in Manama Saudi billionaire Prince Al Waleed bin Talal looks on during a news briefing in Manama
Patty Aguilar | 27 January, 2018, 17:00

Saudi Arabia released billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal on Saturday, January 27, almost 3 months after his arrest in an anti-corruption drive targeting the kingdom's elite, a business associate told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Prince al-Waleed is already at his house in Riyadh and is expected to resume his business activities as normal, two people said.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Prince Alwaleed was speaking from his luxurious suite in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel, now transformed into a heavenly prison to hold tycoons and royals.

Sources told the Associated Press that the prince was released on Saturday from the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, where he has been held since 4 November.

The terms of his release were not immediately clear.

In late November, Miteb bin Abdullah, a senior Saudi prince once seen as a leading contender for the throne, was freed after reaching a settlement with authorities that involved paying more than $1bn, according to a Saudi official. I shave here, like at home.

When asked whether the prince was still the head of his publicly listed Kingdom Holding Company, the source replied: "For sure".

"I told the government I'd stay as much as they want, because I want the truth to come out on all my dealings and on all things that are around me".

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He described his confinement as a misunderstanding and said he supports reform efforts led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Allegations against Prince Alwaleed, who is in his early 60s, included money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, a Saudi official told Reuters at the time.

Prince Al Waleed appeared greyer and thinner than in his last public appearance, a television interview in late October, and had grown a beard while in detention.

More than 200 princes, politicians, and wealthy businessmen were detained in the crackdown.

Q: Do you expect to retain ownership of Kingdom Holding and stakes in companies like Citigroup?

Authorities on Friday released media mogul Waleed al-Ibrahim, owner of influential Arab satellite network MBC.

Some critics have labelled the campaign a shakedown, but authorities insist the purge targeted endemic corruption as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

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