Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal 'released from hotel detention', family say

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal 'released from hotel detention', family say
Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released after a two-month-long detention in a five-star Riyadh hotel on corruption charges, amid reports he reached a financial settlement with the authorities
3 min read
27 January, 2018
Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released from detention for corruption charges on Saturday, his family have told Reuters.

His release was later confirmed by Saudi authorities.

The billionaire prince and tycoon had been held for more than two months in the five-star Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh after he was detained during the sweeping crackdown targeting royals and high-ranking officials in the kingdom, allegedly meant to tackle corruption.

"He has he arrived home," a family member told Reuters.

The wealthy royal reportedly reached a financial settlement with Saudi authorities to secure his release, it was reported.

"The attorney general this morning approved the settlement with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal," a government source told AFP. No further detail was given on the size of the settlement.

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

In an exclusive interview with the agency from his suite at the luxury Riyadh hotel, the prince maintained his innocence and claimed he is being treated well.

According to the billionaire prince, the interview was granted in order to dispel rumours of mistreatment by Saudi authorities.

Bin Talal also said he expects to retain full control of his global investment company, Kingdom Holding Co, amid speculation that he may be forced to give up the lucrative firm.

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.

A Saudi infographic shared on social media said that detainees who have not agreed on financial settlements to close their case will soon be referred to the country's public prosecution.

Bin Talal, a prominent member of the Saudi royal family, is one of several dozen detainees swept up in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's alleged anti-corruption drive launched in November, but which critics see as an attempt to sideline rivals.

He has a net worth, estimated by Forbes magazine, of $17 billion, and owns shares in Citigroup, Twitter, ride-hailing firm Lyft and Time Warner.

Some of the detainees have already secured their freedom through cash settlements.

Saudi authorities claim it will help finance a 50 billion royal ($13.3 billion) package to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, although there still appears to be little transparency in upper echelons of government.

On Friday, it was reported that several detained businessmen had secured their release through financial settlements, including MBC television network owner Waleed al-Ibrahim.

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

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