Saudi Arabia arrests 11 princes

Marie Harrington
November 6, 2017

Other names listed were of businessmen, including Bakr bin Laden, chairman of Saudi Binladin Group, Alwaleed Al Ibrahim, owner of television network MBC, and Khalid Al Mulheim, former director general at Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Official justifications notwithstanding, the sweep was widely seen as as a move to consolidate power around Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne now occupied by his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

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

Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of King Salman, and the grandson of Saudi Arabia's founder King Abdulaziz al-Saud, holds stakes in many major worldwide companies including Citigroup, Twitter, ride-hailing firm Lyft and Time Warner.

Also detained and under investigation is former Saudi finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, said the official, who declined to be identified under briefing rules.

Some of the 11 princes and 38 former government ministers, deputies and businessmen arrested in Saudi Arabia are reportedly being held at the hotel. Alwaleed also owns a roughly 5% stake in Twitter and substantial undisclosed stakes in Apple and Euro Disney. Many of them are potential rivals or critics of the crown prince, whose purported anti-corruption sweep sent shockwaves across the kingdom Sunday as he further consolidated power.

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The committee's goal was to "preserve public money, punish corrupt people and those who exploit their positions", according to the royal decree.

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it established a "supreme committee" to investigate public corruption.

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.

President Trump has spoken with the king of Saudi Arabia to offer a wholehearted endorsement of a drive to modernize the kingdom, as the Saudi authorities arrested scores of prominent business people and ministers in a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown.

The government said the anti-corruption committee has the right to issue arrest warrants, impose travel restrictions and freeze bank accounts.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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