Saudi crown prince shocks kingdom with arrests

Violet Powell
November 6, 2017

The crown prince warned earlier this year that anyone guilty of corruption would be punished.

In addition to Prince Alwaleed, who is one of Saudi Arabia's best-known worldwide businessmen as an investor in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter, those detained included Bakr bin Laden, chairman of the big Saudi Binladin construction group, and Alwaleed al-Ibrahim, owner of the MBC television network. While numerous suspects were not named, Reuters reports, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was ousted as minister of the National Guard and replaced by a lower-level prince who held a position with the guard, Khalid bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin.

It also comes as the Kingdom appears to be in the midst of a major purge of rivals to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Some of the 11 princes and 38 former government ministers, deputies and businessmen arrested in Saudi Arabia are reportedly being held at the hotel.

Prince Alwaleed, one of the country's highest profile businessmen, was one of several princes, ministers, and former ministers detained as part of an anti-corruption crackdown, two senior Saudi officials told Reuters on Sunday.

The arrest of senior princes upends a longstanding tradition among the ruling Al Saud family to keep their disagreements private in an effort to show strength and unity in the face of Saudi Arabia's many tribes and factions.

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Prince Alwaleed formed Kingdom Holding in 1979, initially pouring money into real estate in Riyadh; in the 1990s he ventured into Wall Street, investing heavily in Citigroup.

Prince Alwaleed's investments, current and future, may now be in doubt after he was detained in an investigation by a new Saudi anti-corruption body.

"People will be looking at any kind of worldwide holdings of the people who have been arrested, to see what will be the impact".

The kingdom's top council of clerics was quick to throw its support behind the royal decree, tweeting shortly after the announcement: "Fighting corruption is an obligation in Islamic sharia [law], a requirement of national interest, and combating it is just as important as the fight against terrorism".

Alwaleed was giving interviews to the Western news media as recently as late last month about subjects like so-called crypto currencies and Saudi Arabia's plans for a public offering of shares in its state oil company, Aramco.

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