Saudi Arabia has arrested dozens of princes and former government ministers, including a well-known billionaire with extensive holdings in Western companies, as part of a sweeping anti-corruption probe, further cementing King Salman and his crown prince son’s control of the kingdom.
A high-level employee at Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company told The Associated Press that the royal was among those detained overnight last month. The employee said he received calls from several security bodies notifying him of the arrest. The employee spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of repercussions.
The Associated Press reached out overnight to Kingdom Holding for comment. There was no response as of press time.
Prince Alwaleed is one of the Middle East’s richest people, with investments in Twitter, Apple, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., Citigroup, and the Four Seasons, Fairmont and Movenpick hotel chains. He is also an investor in ride-sharing services Lyft and Careem, both competitors to Uber in the U.S. and the Middle East, respectively.
The prince, often pictured on his multimillion dollar 85.65-metre (281 foot) superyacht in the Mediterranean, is also known for being among the most outspoken Saudi royals, long advocating for women’s rights. He is also majority owner of the popular Rotana Group of Arabic channels.
Official state media have not reported on the arrests, but the kingdom’s top council of clerics issued a statement saying it is an Islamic duty to fight corruption — essentially giving religious backing to the high-level arrests being reported.
The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite news channel reported that at least 11 princes and dozens of former ministers had been detained in the probe launched by a new anti-corruption committee. The committee is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Associated Press)