Saudi prince suspected of corruption released

The government has released other high-profile detainees in recent weeks such as former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah following his "settlement" with authorities reportedly exceeding $1 billion.

Dubbed the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed was the most high-profile among 350 suspects rounded up since November during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's crackdown on alleged corruption.

On Friday, an official Saudi source said several prominent businessmen have reached financial settlements with authorities, including Waleed al-Ibrahim, owner of regional television network MBC, who was released.

With a net worth of $17bn, he had also invested in top hotels including the George V (Paris) and the Plaza (New York).

According to Prince Alwaleed, he felt "so comfortable, so relaxed.like at home" in the Ritz.

The prolonged detention of Prince Al-Waleed, ranked among the richest men in the world, had sent shock waves across a host of companies that count him as a major investor.

Earlier this week, Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb was quoted in local media as saying some 90 detainees had been released after agreeing to settlements involving cash, real estate and other assets.

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Those detained were accused of bribery, money laundering as well as extorting officials.

The purge has pleased some Saudis by showing that Prince Mohammed's economic shakeup is affecting the wealthy as well as the poor, said Tom Coghlan, director for the Middle East and North Africa at K2 Intelligence in London.

He also said he had been well treated in detention, describing rumours of mistreatment as completely false. I shave here, like at home.

"I told the government I'd stay as much as they want, because I want the truth to come out on all my dealings and on all things that are around me".

Outside Prince Alwaleed's Riyadh palace, dozens of cars lined the entrances, as a huge Saudi flag flapped above. "My barber comes here" he said.

His suite at the Ritz-Carlton included a private office, dining room and kitchen.

A senior Saudi official said a week ago the kingdom expects to reap more than US$100 billion (S$131 billion) from settlements made by detainees. 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. Investments within Saudi Arabia include a 16.2 percent stake in lender Banque Saudi Fransi 1050.SE.


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