The billionaire was arrested nearly three months ago as part of an unprecedented anti-corruption purge in the kingdom, which saw the arrest of 350 people, including princes, ministers, ex-ministers and businessmen.
Saudi billionaire Al-Walid bin Talal was released on Saturday following a financial “arrangement” with the authorities. He was arrested nearly three months ago as part of an unprecedented anti-corruption purge in the kingdom. Aged 62, the billionaire prince was the highest ranking of some 350 personalities including princes, ministers, ex-ministers and powerful men, including held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Ryad. A campaign was launched on 4 November by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the king and strongman of the country.
“The Attorney General approved an arrangement with Prince Al-Walid bin Talal” and the latter was then able to return home during the morning, told AFP a government source, on condition of anonymity. It did not provide further details on this “arrangement”. Asked if the prince would stay at the head of the Kingdom Holding Company, she replied in the affirmative. A little earlier, a partner close to the billionaire told AFP that the prince was “free”. Contacted, the Saudi Ministry of Information did not wish to comment.
Are not well acquired
In recent weeks, several of the arrested figures have been released and Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb announced in December that most of the detainees had agreed to a financial arrangement in return for their release. This arrangement is to pay the Treasury Saudi sums which the authorities believe were poorly acquired, said the prosecutor.
On Friday, the authorities released Walid al-Ibrahim, owner of the MBC Arab satellite network, Khaled Tuwaijri, former head of the royal court, and Turki ben Nasser, former head of the country’s meteorological agency, according to a source close to government. According to the Financial Times, Walid al-Ibrahim has agreed to give up control of Middle East Broadcasting Company (MBC), one of the most influential satellite networks in the Arab world.
Among the other released figures is Prince Metab bin Abdullah, son of the late King Abdullah, former head of the powerful Saudi National Guard, who was fired before his arrest. Prince Metab had to pay more than a billion dollars, according to Bloomberg News.
The purge of November came after the establishment of an anti-corruption commission chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the king and nicknamed “MBS”. Some saw an attempt by Prince Mohammed to consolidate his power. But the authorities insist that the purge was only aimed at tackling endemic corruption.
Colossal hijacked funds
The Attorney General has estimated at least $ 100 billion the amount of funds diverted or used for corrupt purposes in the kingdom for several decades.
Ranked among the most important fortunes in the world, Prince al-Walid is the grandson of two historical figures of the Arab world: King Abdelaziz al-Saoud, founder of Saudi Arabia, and Riad al-Solh, first chief of government of the history of Lebanon. The Kingdom Holding Company owns the famous luxury hotel George-V on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Forbes magazine estimated in 2017 that the prince weighed $ 18.7 billion, putting him in 45th place in his latest ranking of world fortunes.
Prince al-Walid is also known for his outspokenness and calls for a more open Saudi society. Defender of women’s rights, he launched at the end of 2016 a strong call for women in Saudi Arabia to get the right to drive and lamented the “economic cost” of the ban on driving for them. Nearly a year later, her appeal was heard and women will be allowed to drive from June 2018.
The Ritz-Carlton, closed to the public since the November purge, is expected to reopen soon. On its website, it posts rooms available from 14 February.