Saudi corruption probe: Elites released after reaching settlement with Attorney General
Saudi Arabia has released almost a hundred people detained on corruption allegations. Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, head of global investment firm Kingdom Holding 4280.SE, was among at least half a dozen tycoons who were released at the weekend after over two months of confinement in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel. His release came hours after he told in an interview at the hotel that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be freed within days. “Prince Alwaleed was freed after he reached a financial settlement with the attorney general” said a senior Saudi official. He also added that “The attorney general has approved the settlement that was reached with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the prince returned home at 11:00 a.m. (local time)”.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been accused of using the investigation to remove opponents and consolidate his power, has been the driving force behind the arrests. Saudi Arabia's attorney general said at least $100bn (£76bn) had been misused through systemic corruption and embezzlement going back decades. The detentions and the expensive settlements are being characterised by the state as an attempt to recover those funds. Saudi Arabia is set to receive a $124 billion from the detainees as a price for their freedom from all the charges. Those who do not reach settlements before then are expected to be sent to prison to await trial.
While the terms of the Prince Talal's release weren't revealed, he said he expects to keep full control of his investment firm Kingdom Holding Company. He also assured the investors and investees of his business empire that he won't be required to surrender his assets to the government.