Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is launched from captivity, maintains innocence

Posted January 27, 2018

Saudi Arabia freed Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and several of the kingdom's most prominent businessmen from detention this weekend, clearing out the Ritz-Carlton hotel that served as a jail for the country's elite during a controversial crackdown on corruption.

Allegations against Prince Alwaleed included money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, a Saudi official told Reuters at the time.

The hotel where he and other prominent figures were held has been closed to the public since early November.

Prince Alwaleed said he was continuing to maintain his innocence of any corruption in talks with authorities.

"I believe we are on the verge of finishing everything within days". His refrigerator was stocked with vegetarian meals as requested and he had tennis shoes for exercise, as well as a mug with an image of his face on it, according to Reuters. Directly or indirectly through Kingdom Holding, he holds stakes in firms such as Twitter Incorporation (TWTR.N) and Citigroup Incorporation (C.N) and has invested in top hotels including the George V in Paris and the Plaza in NY.

The release of Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion, may reassure investors in his business empire. The arrests also raised concerns over increasing totalitarianism along with disarray and resentment from within a royal family whose unity has been the bedrock of the kingdom.

The billionaire prince was taken into custody in the kingdom's sweeping crackdown on corruption some two months ago.

"There's a misunderstanding, and it's being cleared". Among them is former finance minister and minister of state, Ibrahim al-Assaf, who recently led Saudi Arabia's delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And I said: 'Fine, that's fine with me, no problem at all.

Meanwhile, Prince Alwaleed said that he wanted to clear his name from any wrongdoings and said that his arrest was a "mistake" and Saudi authorities were "misunderstood".

In recent days there have been signs the purge is winding down.

A Saudi official told Reuters this month that he was negotiating a possible settlement but so far had not agreed on terms.

"If they can just go back to their old jobs, it would appear that the campaign was just a warning signal, and an effort to raise money", said Gregory Gause, a professor of worldwide affairs and Saudi specialist at Texas A&M University.

"Settlements don't happen unless the accused acknowledges violations and documents that in writing and pledges that he won't repeat them", the official said.

After his release, he plans to continue living in Saudi Arabia, he said. Investments within Saudi Arabia include a 16.2 percent stake in lender Banque Saudi Fransi. This is my country. "My allegiance is not on the table".