Prominent Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has been released from detention in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Lebanese capital, Beruit. He was arrested in November over allegations of corruption, according to close associates.
The arrest of Prince Alwaleed had shocked the international business community. His net worth has been estimated by 2017 Forbes magazine at a whopping $18 billion. The release of Alwaleed may reassure investors in his business empire. He is also a member of the powerful Saudi ruling family.
He is the owner of a Saudi private firm, Kingdom Holding. He exercises a lot of influence directly or indirectly through his firm. He also holds sizable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup.
Alwaleed has done business with many corporate moguls from around the world, like, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Michael R Bloomberg.
His investments span across the globe. He holds stakes in the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, The Savoy, London and The Plaza, New York. He has also invested in the AccorHotels chain and the London business development, Canary Wharf.
Not for no reason is he called, “Warren Buffett of the Middle East.”
It was still unclear what led to the release of Prince Alwaleed as the Saudi Government has not disclosed the matter citing privacy rules.
Some people had speculated earlier that he had taken a royal loan after his investments sank dramatically due to the 2007-08 worldwide economic meltdown. Others say that he was extremely angry and had criticized the new Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman for his erroneous economic reforms.
Crown Prince Mohammed, who is leading the efforts on what the Saudi government called it an “anti-corruption campaign”, said that the campaign could recover more than 100 billion dollars in illegal means. He is also pushing for diversifying Saudi’s economy away from oil and to relax its strict social conventions.
However, critics have alleged that the “anti-corruption campaign”, spearheaded by the Crown Prince, is a ploy aimed at increasing his control on the economy while cutting down rivals for power and prominence.
Meanwhile, Prince Alwaleed said that he wanted to clear his name from any wrongdoings and said that his arrest was a “mistake” and that Saudi authorities “misunderstood”.
Prince Alwaleed was arrested in Saudi Arabia in November 2017, in an “anti-corruption campaign”, along with other businessmen like, Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim and Saleh Abdullah Kamel to name a few.
The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery, and extorting officials.