Saudi prince freed amid corruption probe veiled in secrecy

On November 9, more than 200 influential people including princes and ranking officials were summoned for questioning, and a lot of them were detained in one of the most luxurious hotels Ritz-Carlton.

The prince announcedonFriday he was expecting to be released in the following days after being cleared of all wrongdoings, it was reported.

"The attorney general this morning approved the settlement with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal", paving the way for his release, a government source told AFP on Saturday, without disclosing figures.

The government said most of those detained agreed monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom, which could earn state coffers about $100bn.(£70bn).

Saudi Arabia said in November that corrupt practices by Saudi royals and officials have cost the kingdom at least $100 billion over decades and it planned to recover that amount.

The crown prince, who has consolidated power rapidly since his father's ascension to the throne three years ago, has demonstrated "he's not afraid to step on some toes", Cafiero said.

In November, a newly-constituted anti-corruption body detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers, and dozens of business tycoons and government officials in an anti-corruption drive.

The Saudi information ministry has not responded to requests for comment.

Alwaleed reportedly reached a financial settlement with the government before returning to his home, according to Reuters.

And Crown Prince Mohammed is turning the screws on those who remain, threatening to move them to an actual prison and put them on trial, Saudi officials said.

His web of hospitality and real estate investments includes the George V hotel in Paris, New York's Plaza hotel and the Savoy hotel in London.

The release of Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion, is likely to reassure investors in his global business empire as well as in the Saudi economy broadly.

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

Hours before his release, Prince Alwaleed gave Reuters an exclusive tour of his palatial "cell" at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh to counter rumours of torture or mistreatment and gloss over the allegations against him. I'm so comfortable, I'm so relaxed.

His suite at the Ritz-Carlton included a private office, dining room and kitchen.

The prince said he was able to communicate with family members and executives at his business during his time in detention.


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