Saudi billionaire Alwaleed 'released' from detention

Pic Reuters

Saudi Arabia on Friday released the owner of the influential Arab satellite network MBC almost three months after his arrest in an anti-corruption drive targeting the kingdom's elite, sources told AFP. Investments within Saudi Arabia include a 16.2 percent stake in lender Banque Saudi Fransi 1050.SE.

The prince, sometimes pictured vacationing on his 85m super-yacht in the Mediterranean, is among the most outspoken Saudi royals and a longtime advocate of women's rights.

Kingdom Holding, traded on the Saudi Tadawul All-Shares Index (TASI) has been one of Saudi Arabia's most important investors with shares in USA tech giant Apple and social media site Twitter, among others.

Saudi authorities have said they expect to raise some $100 billion for the government through settlements with businessmen accused of graft.

"There's a misunderstanding and its being cleared", Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said in the interview while also giving the interviewer a tour of the "luxury jail" at the opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh where he was detained.

He arrived to his home Saturday morning, a source from his family members told the agency.

A senior Saudi official said Prince Alwaleed's release had come about after a financial settlement was reached with the attorney general. The government, however, has not named those detained nor discussed the specific allegations against them.


Just days earlier, the hotel had hosted a conference dubbed "Davos in the Desert" where 3,500 business leaders and government officials met to discuss the kingdom's ambitious Vision 2030 plan to diversify away from oil. They said he had returned to his palatial home in Riyadh's al-Fakhariya neighborhood.

It marks the end of the first phase of a wide-reaching anti-corruption inquiry that has been shrouded in secrecy and intrigue.

During a previous interview, a Saudi official said charges against the billionaire prince included money laundering, bribery and extorting of officials.

Earlier reports had suggested that he was preparing to cough up a cash settlement in return for his freedom, although the reported breakdown of those talks led to suggestions that he may he put on trial.

Prince Al-Waleed is the latest in a series of high-profile detainees to be freed from the hotel, as the campaign against elite corruption launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman draws to a close. It confirmed that 95 people were still detained.

Al-Tuwijri said that target was "realistic". "There is a significant flight-of-capital risk".

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