Date
16 August 2018
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal pictured in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh during an interview granted to Reuters on January 27. Photo: Reuters
Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal pictured in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh during an interview granted to Reuters on January 27. Photo: Reuters

Prince Alwaleed released from detention by Saudi authorities

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from detention in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, more than two months after the billionaire businessman was taken into custody in a sweeping crackdown on corruption.

Reuters quoted a senior Saudi official as saying that Prince Alwaleed was freed after he reached a financial settlement with the attorney general.

“The attorney general has approved… the settlement that was reached with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the prince returned home,” the official said, without giving details of the terms.

Prince Alwaleed had been confined at the Ritz-Carlton since early November, along with dozens of other senior officials and businessmen, part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to reform the country and consolidate his position.

The decision to free the businessman, and the release of several other well-known tycoons on Friday, suggests the main part of the Saudi corruption probe is winding down, Reuters noted.

Prince Alwaleed’s release came hours after he told Reuters in an interview at the Ritz-Carlton that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be freed within days.

In his first interview since being detained, he told Reuters that he maintained his innocence of any corruption in talks with the authorities.

He said he expected to keep full control of his global investment firm Kingdom Holding without being required to hand assets to the state. He said he had been able to communicate with executives at his business while detained.

Prince Alwaleed, who is in his early 60s, described his confinement as a “misunderstanding” and said he supported reform efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“There are no charges. There are just some discussions between me and the government,” he said.

A Gulf banker who deals with Saudi Arabia said authorities appeared keen to conclude the probe partly because foreign investors were concerned their assets or local business partners could be targeted in the wide-ranging crackdown.

Prince Alwaleed’s detention was particularly worrying for foreigners because of his international prominence as an investor in top Western companies such as Twitter and Citigroup, and in top hotels including the George V in Paris and the Plaza in New York, the banker told Reuters.

“The government is signaling that it wants to move to a new phase now, away from the crackdown and into other economic reforms,” the banker was quoted as saying.

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RC

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