Prince Alwaleed could go on trial in Saudi 'sheikh-down'

Saudi corruption 'sheikh-down' to move to trial with 95 still detained, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed
2 min read
24 January, 2018
Saudi media are reporting that 95 people are still being held by authorities in a purported anti-corruption campaign that was launched nearly three months ago by the kingdom’s crown prince.
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is reportedly among those still being held since early November [Getty]
Saudi media are reporting that 95 people are still being held by authorities in a purported anti-corruption campaign that was launched nearly three months ago by the kingdom’s influential crown prince.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is reportedly among those still being held since early November when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MbS, ordered the stunning arrests of top princes, businessmen and officials, who were jailed at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

Earlier reports had suggested he was in talks to cough up a cash settlement in return for his freedom, but those negotiations seem to have failed.

A Saudi infographic shared on social media says that detainees who have not agreed on financial settlements to close their case will soon be referred to the Public Prosecution for trial.

State-linked Sabq news website on Wednesday quoted Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb saying 90 detainees have been released after agreeing to settlements involving cash, real estate and other assets.

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, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

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 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 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.

Saudi authorities insist the financial settlements are not blackmail but an obligation to reimburse money taken illegally from the world's top oil producer over several decades.