Detained Saudi businessmen reach financial settlements in corruption probe

Detained Saudi businessmen reach financial settlements in corruption probe
Saudi authorities have reportedly released NBC owner Waleed al-Ibrahim he and several others reached financial settlements for their freedom.
2 min read
27 January, 2018
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman launched the sweeping crackdown in November [AFP]

Several prominent Saudi businessmen being held as part of the kingdom's sweeping anti-corruption crackdown have reportedly reached financial settlements to secure their release.

According to an anonymous source cited by Reuters on Friday, those who have agreed terms for their release include Waleed al-Ibrahim, proprietor of regional television network MBC; fashion mogul Fawaz Alhokair; former Royal Court chief Khalid al-Tuwaijri, and Turki bin Nasser, a former head of the country's meteorology and environmental protection agency.

Details of the settlements were not revealed by the source.

According to an email sent by MBC chief executive Sam Barnett to the company's employees, Ibrahim is currently with his family in Riyadh after being released by authorities.

In November, the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, launched a wide-ranging crackdown on dozens of elites, ostensibly to tackle corruption. Critics say it was also a way of consolidating his grip on power.

Most of those detained have struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom.

The suspects - who include high-profile princes and billionnaires - have been held at Riyadh's luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel since early November and were reportedly told to hand over assets and cash in exchange for their freedom.

On Wednesday, Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said that cash settlements obtained from people detained in Saudi Arabia's purported crackdown on corruption will help to finance a 50 billion royal ($13.3 billion) package to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living.

The package was announced by King Salman early this month, said Jadaan, speaking to Al Arabiya television at the World Economic forum in Davos. He said the package would also be financed by money from the state budget.

The anti-corruption crackdown, however, has been labelled by critics as a power grab and a shakedown of the kingdom's business and political elite.