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Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Released from Detention

The Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released after nearly three months in detention at a luxury hotel as part of an anti-corruption sweep.

The prince was released on Saturday from the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, where he has been held since 4 November. A senior Saudi official said he had been freed after he reached a financial settlement with the attorney general.

“The attorney general has approved this morning the settlement that was reached with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the prince returned home at 11am [0800 GMT],” the official told Reuters, without giving details of the terms.

Alwaleed is the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, which has investments in Twitter, Lyft, Apple and other western companies. He was detained in November along with at least 10 other princes and dozens of prominent Saudi businessmen and officials suspected of corruption.

His release came hours after he told Reuters that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be freed within days.

The decision to free him along with several other well-known tycoons on Friday suggested the main part of the corruption probe was winding down after it sent shockwaves through Saudi Arabia’s business and political establishment.

A Gulf banker who deals with Saudi Arabia said the authorities appeared keen to conclude the probe partly because foreign investors were concerned their assets or local business partners could be targeted. “The government is signalling that it wants to move to a new phase now, away from the crackdown and into other economic reforms,” the banker said.

The detention of Alwaleed along with dozens of other senior officials and businessmen was part of the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to reform the oil superpower Saudi Arabia and consolidate his position.

The attorney general said this week that 90 detainees had been released after their charges were dropped, while others traded cash, real estate and other assets for their freedom. The authorities were still holding 95 people, he said. Some are expected to be put on trial.

 

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