A Saudi 'Night of the Long Knives'? Prince Salman's crackdown

angelburst29

The Living Force
Two sons of Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah have been released from detention at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, days after nearly two dozen other detainees in the Kingdom’s two-month-old “anti-corruption campaign” were also freed.

Bin Salman releases 2 Saudi princes Friday December 29, 2017
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-bin-salman-releases-2-saudi-princes/

Saudi Arabia’s attorney general approved the release of Prince Meshaal Bin Abdullah and Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah after they reached financial settlements with the government, a senior Saudi official with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The source did not elaborate on the settlements.

The attorney general had not yet reached a decision on whether to release a third brother, Prince Turki Bin Abdullah, the source said.

A related member of the royal family, Princess Nouf Bint Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud, tweeted photos of the two princes and exclamations of thanks yesterday.

Saudi security forces rounded up some 200 princes, ministers and business leaders and converted the Ritz-Carlton into a prison for them in early November in what Riyadh said was a crackdown on corruption.

The move was also widely seen by analysts as helping Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman consolidate his grip on power, after he ousted his cousin as heir to the throne in the summer.

The most powerful of King Abdullah’s sons, former National Guard chief Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah, was released last month after agreeing to pay the government $1 billion.

Saudi newspaper Okaz reported on Tuesday that 23 individuals had been released after reaching deals with the government and that more were expected to follow in the days ahead.

Others who had not reached settlements would face trial, the report said.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Looks like ... one of the plans the Saudi's were behind has been dismantled?

King Abdullah of Jordan dismissed three members of the royal family including two of his brothers from the army in a major shake-up in the powerful establishment with sources saying the dismissed individuals were planning a coup and had contacted de facto Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Jordanian King Thwarts Saudi-Backed Coup, Sacks Brothers from Army Sun Dec 31, 2017
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961010000603

King Abdullah has decided to retire his brothers, prince Faisal and Ali from the army, citing a 'restructuring' plan, Petra news agency reported.

His cousin prince Talal has also been dismissed after a long service as a commander in the special service. The three are now reportedly under house arrest.

The development came as Abdullah prepares his eldest son, Crown prince Hussein to take on a more prominent role following his recent graduation from the top British military academy, Sandhurst.

Over the recent past, Jordan has been moving away from Saudi Arabia and getting closer to Turkey in ongoing regional political realignments much to the chagrin of bin Salman.

Al-Aqsa Mosque located in al-Quds (Jerusalem), the third holiest place in Islam, is under the authority of the King of Jordan through past agreements. The Jordanian monarch is reportedly under intense Saudi-US pressure to accept President Donald Trump's declaration on al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime.

Jordan has so far sided with majority of Muslim states in rejecting Trump’s al-Quds declaration and this explains why the Jordanian king was present at the OIC summit in Istanbul despite being under huge pressure to boycott it. The Summit was boycotted by Saudi Arabia, the host of the OIC headquarters, which only sent a junior foreign ministry official.
 

Lilou

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
The Royal Court in Jordan has put out a statement saying the rumors of a coup are not true and are threatening legal action.

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/royal-court-threatens-legal-action-against-rumourmongers

AMMAN — The Royal Hashemite Court on Saturday released the following statement:

“Rumours and misleading claims have been circulated over the past few days by a number of online outlets and social media websites, spreading lies about Their Royal Highnesses Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, and Prince Talal Bin Mohammad.

The Royal Hashemite Court will pursue legal measures against those who spread lies and false claims against Their Royal Highnesses the Princes and members of the Royal Hashemite family, as the fabricated news circulated recently is aimed at undermining Jordan and its institutions.

Our loyal people do not fall for such lies, which can never damage Jordan’s national unity and the deep-rooted relationship between Jordanians and the Royal Hashemite family.

His Majesty King Abdullah, the Supreme Commander of the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF), had sent Their Royal Highnesses letters in appreciation of their service after they were referred to retirement from the JAF.

Their Royal Highnesses had been exemplary officers of the Arab Army, loyal to Jordan and the Hashemite Throne.”

Jordanians are saying that this rumor is an attempt to create dissent in the Kingdom and divide the population. If it were true, there would be increased army check points thru out the country and this has not happened. Sources in Jordanian Intelligence also confirm that no coup was being planned and the rumors are bull$hit. Jordan's recent pivot toward Turkey, Qatar (and dare I say Russia) has pissed off Saudi Arabia, so much so, that they have already cut their foreign aid to Jordan. It's a very dirty game.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Lilou said:
The Royal Court in Jordan has put out a statement saying the rumors of a coup are not true and are threatening legal action.

http://jordantimes.com/news/local/royal-court-threatens-legal-action-against-rumourmongers

AMMAN — The Royal Hashemite Court on Saturday released the following statement:

“Rumours and misleading claims have been circulated over the past few days by a number of online outlets and social media websites, spreading lies about Their Royal Highnesses Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, and Prince Talal Bin Mohammad.

The Royal Hashemite Court will pursue legal measures against those who spread lies and false claims against Their Royal Highnesses the Princes and members of the Royal Hashemite family, as the fabricated news circulated recently is aimed at undermining Jordan and its institutions.

Our loyal people do not fall for such lies, which can never damage Jordan’s national unity and the deep-rooted relationship between Jordanians and the Royal Hashemite family.

His Majesty King Abdullah, the Supreme Commander of the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF), had sent Their Royal Highnesses letters in appreciation of their service after they were referred to retirement from the JAF.

Their Royal Highnesses had been exemplary officers of the Arab Army, loyal to Jordan and the Hashemite Throne.”

Jordanians are saying that this rumor is an attempt to create dissent in the Kingdom and divide the population. If it were true, there would be increased army check points thru out the country and this has not happened. Sources in Jordanian Intelligence also confirm that no coup was being planned and the rumors are bull$hit. Jordan's recent pivot toward Turkey, Qatar (and dare I say Russia) has pissed off Saudi Arabia, so much so, that they have already cut their foreign aid to Jordan. It's a very dirty game.

Thanks for Posting that disclaimer, Lilou.

I just came across the same article in Arab News and was going to Post an update ... when I noticed you already provided a correction. Thanks.

Statement from the Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1216816/middle-east
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Jordan’s royal palace warned it would take legal measures against anyone spreading what it said were lies about the ruling family, just days after King Abdullah relieved his brothers from top army posts in a major shakeup.

Jordan royal palace denies rumours about dismissal of princes January 1, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-jordan-royal-palace-denies-rumours-about-dismissal-of-princes/

The king, a staunch US ally, said on Tuesday that his brothers Prince Ali and Prince Faisal and his cousin Prince Talal – who all had high military ranks – would be retiring from the armed forces.

He said the move was part of a reorganisation of the armed forces’ hierarchy and structure.

Prince Faisal was head of the royal air force and deputy chief of staff, while Prince Ali had for years been in charge of the royal guards responsible for the king’s protection.

Talal Bin Mohammad, a Sandhurst graduate who was and an officer in the elite special forces, was also sent into retirement. They were all given honorary promotions.

A palace statement on Sunday said it would pursue legal measures against those who propagated “lies and false claims” in social media and online websites with the goal of driving a wedge between the royal family and ordinary Jordanians. The statement added:

These fabricated news circulated recently are aimed at undermining Jordan and its institutions.

A Jordanian army source said the move by the king was prompted by a desire to set an example that the Hashemite ruling family was not above the law ahead of an anticipated move to retire dozens of senior army generals.

The king, who himself is an elite special forces commander, said the restructuring plan aimed to reorganise the 120,000- strong army by cutting costs and creating a more lean and effective force better equipped to modern warfare against terrorist groups.

The kingdom, which borders both Iraq to the east and Syria to the north and Israel to the west, has escaped relatively unscathed from the regional turmoil around it.

Many of the top army brass are drawn from native Jordanian tribes who form the backbone of the support for the royal family and play a dominant role in the army and government.

Jordanians see the royal family as a unifying force that holds together a country where many of its citizens are Palestinians whose families settled after successive Arab-Israeli wars, placing the kingdom at the heart of the conflict.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Saudi Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, the father of Alwaleed bin Talal and first progressive reformer in the House of Saud, has gone on a hunger strike in protest at the purge being carried out by his nephew Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the detention of three of his own sons.

Senior Saudi Royal on Hunger Strike over Purge: Report January, 02, 2018
https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2018/01/02/1618070/senior-saudi-royal-on-hunger-strike-over-purge-report

The 86-year-old prince, who is the half-brother of King Salman, stopped eating on 10 November, shortly after his first son, Alwaleed, was arrested on 4 November, and has lost 10 kilos in one month, according to Middle East Eye.

Last week, a feeding tube was inserted into him, but his condition at the King Faisal Hospital in Riyadh remains weak, according to several people who have visited him.

Many royal visitors and members of the business community have paid their respects to the frail prince. One of them spoke about the prince’s actions to MEE on condition of anonymity.

He said the prince had made no public statement about his refusal to eat. When his half-brother King Salman visited him in late November to express his condolences about the death of their sister, Madawi, the king was pictured kissing the hand of Talal, who was then in a wheelchair.

The visitor said that the prince did not raise the issue of the arrest of his three sons with the king on that occasion because Talal did not want to use his access to the king to press for the release of his sons, while others remained in prison.

However, he said there was no doubt as to why Talal had stopped eating, “We know him too well and why he is doing this. There is no medical reason why he has 'no appetite'."

A month before his action, Talal told friends it was right to protest “civilly” to draw attention to the tyranny which his young nephew bin Salman is establishing under the cover of an anti-corruption purge.

Talal’s presence at the hospital has become a meeting point for many of the Al-Saud family, and a way for them to witness what is happening, the visitor said.

Prince Talal is known as a liberal. A former finance minister in the government of King Saud (1953-64), he became known as the Red Prince in the 1960s for leading the Free Princes Movement which called for an end to the absolute monarchy.

But the royal family rejected the movement and Talal was forced into exile in Cairo before his mother was able to engineer a reconciliation with the family.

Talal campaigned for women’s rights long before the decision in September to allow Saudi women to drive. The prince said in one interview, “Saudi women will take their rights eventually... the march towards that should not stop and we have to accelerate this a bit."

The prince has continued to campaign for a constitutional monarchy and the instigation of the separation of powers, which he claims is enshrined in the constitution.

Three of Talal’s sons have been arrested. Alwaleed bin Talal, the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, and one of the world’s richest men with assets valued by Bloomberg at $19bn, has been in prison since the first day of the purge.

According to informed sources, MbS is demanding that Alwaleed sign over ownership of the entire Kingdom Holding Company. He is refusing to do this. If a settlement is not reached, Alwaleed will demand a trial.

Khalid, his full brother, lobbied for his brother’s release. Sources say that he got into an argument over his brother with a government official, and was subsequently arrested. Another younger brother was charged with affray.

The visitor to Prince Talal said no one was in any doubt about the motivation for bin Salman’s purge of the royal family and business leaders.

He noted that while some branches of the family were known to be corrupt, they were left untouched, while arrests were mostly directed at the bin Abdullahs and the bin Talals.

In addition to Alwaleed and his brothers, other princes are still in detention. They include Turki bin Nasser, Turki bin Abdullah, and Fahd bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman.

There is no definitive word of the fate of Abdulaziz bin Fahd. There are persistent accounts that he resisted arrest, and during the fight that ensued, he suffered a stroke or a heart attack. He is believed still to be alive, but in a vegetative state, according to several sources.

Mohammed bin Nayef, the former crown prince, ousted in a palace coup conducted before the November purge, and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was arrested as part of the purge, have reportedly been released.

Officials close to MbS have staged public appearances for Miteb, including an encounter in which bin Salman publicly kissed the man he imprisoned and had mistreated physically. This piece of theatre was staged at an annual horse race for locally bred and imported horses in Janadriyah.

Miteb was also allowed to visit the National Guard hospital in Riyadh and to present gifts to members of the military service that he once commanded.

In reality, both bin Nayef and Miteb are kept on a short leash. Each has to ask permission to leave their palaces and they are accompanied by royal guards who report directly back to bin Salman. Both are forbidden to travel, according to another source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The visitor said there was dismay and fury among senior members of the Al-Saud royal family at what bin Salman had done, and the absolute control he was attempting to impose on the country. At the same time, there was much sympathy for bin Nayef, known as MbN.

He said, “What happened to MbN shows that you can never think you are close to MbS, and you can never trust him.”
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has fully taken control of MBC media group and al-Arabiya news channel, an Arab daily revealed on Wednesday.

Daily: MBC, Al-Arabiya Fully Controlled by Saudi Crown Prince
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961013001200

The Arabic-language al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported that the MBC and al-Arabiya are now being managed by Turki al-Dakhil, a journalist affiliated to bin Salman, and his deputy Nasser bin Hizzam.

The daily added that there is concern that the foreign journalists working for the MBC will be fired and replaced with the Saudi nationals.

Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Walid al-Ibrahim, the MBC owner, has fully given over the MBC and many other properties to the Saudi officials in return for his freedom while he was kept in Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh along with other Saudi princes.

Dozens of government officials, businesspeople and royals were arrested by the Saudi government in November in a sweeping corruption probe.

Some analysts saw the arrest of high-profile figures as an attempt by bin Salman, who is also the Saudi defense minister, to consolidate his control over the security services.

Media sources revealed in November that Saudi princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in the power grab were being strung up by their feet and beaten by American private security contractors.

The group of the country's most powerful figures were arrested in a crackdown ordered by Bin Salman as he ordered the detention of at least 11 fellow princes and hundreds of businessmen and government officials over claims of corruption.


JEDDAH: Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad issued a decision on Wednesday to change Al Ekhbariya channel to a limited liability company, owned by the Saudi Broadcasting Corp. (SBC) and the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Al Ekhbariya channel to become news network company
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1216296/saudi-arabia

This change was taken as a measure to cope with rapid developments in local and international media.

The official Twitter website of the Ministry of Culture and Information, @SaudiBroadcast, posted a video in which the official spokesman of the ministry, Hani Al-Gahafili, expressed his reaction to the news in a daily new TV program called “Saudi morning.”

He said: “The channel’s transformation into a company gives it flexibility in performance and enables it to achieve many goals. It will become a strong source of local news and will match its corresponding regional and global channels.”

According to the SPA: “The decision aims to develop the Arabic-language news channel and to launch an English-language news channel. The company will be able to develop its experience regarding events coverage, and follow-up of local and international news.”

Al-Awwad said in a statement: “Such a change comes within the context of the ministry’s initiatives to achieve Vision 2030, and enable its various institutions to keep abreast of developments in the media arena at the level of the region and the world.”

He added: “We have established media institutions in Saudi Arabia and we are working with them to provide all the support they need to professionally convey the Kingdom’s message to the world.”

The new version of the channel, the Al Ekhbariya Company Network, aims to achieve excellence in the dissemination of exclusive content in accordance with standards of honesty, accuracy and objectivity; to make a return on the investment in the media sector; and to create new platforms for digital distribution to reach a competitive content industry.
 

Aeneas

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801031060485949-saudi-state-minister-cabinet-meeting/

Saudi Minister of State Arrested in Anti-Graft Purge Returns to Work

A top Saudi Arabian government minister who was reportedly detained in November as part of a massive anti-corruption crackdown has returned to work, reports Saudi state media.
Saudi Minister of State Ibrahim al-Assaf was spotted at a Tuesday cabinet meeting, doing his job like normal — except al-Assaf was reportedly arrested in November 2017 under allegations of embezzlement and corruption.

Assaf served as minister of finance from 1996-2016 until he assumed his more recent job. He also serves on the board of directors of Saudi Aramco, the national oil company that is thought to be the most valuable company in the world.

Assaf is also one of the highest-profile figures arrested as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's major corruption probe. He was accused of embezzlement related to the ongoing expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, as well as using his position and inside information to make land purchases.

Assaf was reportedly released in December after being cleared of all accusations of wrongdoing.

As many as 200 people were arrested in the purge and as much as $800 billion in assets were frozen. The prisoners were held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, which has been converted into a luxury prison.


The highest-profile arrest was that of Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, Salman's cousin and the chief of the country's National Guard. Abdullah was released in December after agreeing to pay the government $1 billion, one of several detainees released after handing their assets over ot the state.

Other high-profile arrests included some of Saudi Arabia's richest entrepreneurs, among them billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and other government ministers such as Minister of Economy and Planning Adel Fakeih.

Talal remains in custody, and Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that he has denied all wrongdoing. Reportedly, authorities wish for him to surrender control of the Kingdom Holding Company that he founded and owns as recompense for his alleged corruption, but Talal has refused.

Many other members of the Saudi royal family were arrested in the purge — and some, like Abdullah, were at one point considered to be candidates for the throne of the aging King Salman. This has led to speculation that bin Salman, who became crown prince in June, was ensuring a smooth ascension to the throne by removing his main rivals from power.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Eleven princes have staged a protest in one of the king's palaces in the Saudi capital Riyadh, demanding that an order to suspend payment of their water and electricity bills be overturned, according to Saudi online newspaper Sabq.

Eleven Saudi Princes Reportedly Stage Protest in Royal Palace, End Up in Prison
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801061060552114-saudi-princes-detained-protests-palace/

The princes were detained by Saudi authorities after they gathered at Qasr a-Hokm royal palace to object to austerity measures recently imposed on members of the royal family, online news website sabq.org reports.

The royals were rebelling against a decree by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud to stop state funding of water and electricity bills for members of the royal family. They also demanded compensation for the execution of their cousin, who also belonged to the royal family, according to Sabq.

Eleven princes were sent to al-Hayer prison, where they will reportedly be held until court trial begins.

"Everybody is equal before the law and anyone who does not implement regulations and instructions will be held accountable, no matter who he is,"
the website said, quoting sources.

No details were provided on the identity of the arrested royals, however, according to the media, the leader of the rebellious group was identified by the initials S.A.S.

The detention occurred amid an ongoing massive anti-corruption campaign in Saudi Arabia led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The push is widely regarded to be an effort to strengthen his power.


A battalion of the Saudi Royal Guard arrested 11 princes who gathered at the Riyadh Ruling Palace after a royal order was issued for their arrest following their refusal to leave the palace.

Arrested: 11 Saudi princes who refused to pay utility bills
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1220201/saudi-arabia

Local online newspaper, Sabq, quoted sources as saying that the princes were objecting to the recent cancelation of privileges which exempted members of the royal family from paying their water and electricity bills. They also asked for financial compensation for a death sentence levelled against one of their relatives.

After being informed that their demands were rejected, the princes refused to leave the palace and, hence, the Royal Guard was ordered to intervene and detain them. They were transferred to Hair Prison pending trial.

Ever since King Salman ascended to the throne in 2015, he has introduced measures which ensured members of the royal family are held equally accountable in front of the law. He approved of the beheading of a prince who killed a member of the public.

In a previous television interviews, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — who is credited with the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 — has made clear that the country’s reform plans will not tolerate corruption nor allow for anyone, regardless of their status or position, to receive special treatment when it comes to paying for their utilities.


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will travel to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron around the end of February or early March, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told French TV CNEWS.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to meet Macron in Paris soon: Al-Jubeir
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1219921/saudi-arabia

Asked if Prince Mohammed would be visiting Paris, Al-Jubeir said: “Yes, God willing. He received an invitation from President Emmanuel Macron. We’re thinking about an end February-early March date.”

He said the exact date had not been finalized yet but would be decided upon in the coming weeks. Al-Jubeir’s comments were broadcast via a French translation.

Prince Mohammed is leading sweeping economic and social reforms intended to remodel the world’s top oil exporter and biggest Arab economy into a modern state no longer dependent on petroleum. These include the planned the sale of five percent of state oil giant Saudi Aramco, which could be the biggest IPO in history.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Several sources revealed that the Saudi authorities have transferred the remaining detainees being held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh during a recent alleged anti-corruption drive against businessmen and royals to Al-Ha’ir Prison known as the most high security prison in the Kingdom.

Riyadh Transfers Luxurious Hotel Detainees to Most High Security Prison in Saudi Arabia
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961019001455

Sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news site that nearly 60 detainees were transferred to a high security prison, as Saudi Arabia has used the Al-Ha’ir Prison to detain political activists demanding reforms, as well as terrorism suspects.

The prisoners include Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal --- who Riyadh had demanded at least $6 billion from him to free the prince from detention --- and Prince Turki Bin Abdullah and a number of government officials who refused to make the large financial payments for their release.

The security services including the police, the Royal Guards and army units which have surrounded the hotel over the past two months have nearly disappeared from the hotel’s vicinity, while online a hotels booking site listed the Ritz-Carlton as available for booking as of next month, according to eyewitnesses.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi billionaire who entered world’s top 100 most influential people in 2008 according to TIME magazine, has been detained for two months as part of a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s Richest Man Reportedly in Talks With Gov't on Terms of Release
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801141060745606-saudi-arabia-richest-man-talks/

Bin Talal is negotiating the terms of his release from custody with the Saudi authorities, an official familiar with the situation said.

"He [Bin Talal] offered a certain figure but it doesn’t meet the figure required from him, and until today the attorney-general hasn’t approved it," the official said Sunday on condition of anonymity.

The revelation emerges a day after another undisclosed source said that the detained prince was seeking to get cleared of the charges he is facing in exchange for a “donation” from his assets. However, the government was said to have denied the offer.

Prior to that, the Wall Street Journal released a report alleging that Riyadh wanted the prince to pay $6 billion for freedom. The latter, however, was reported to be trying to persuade the authorities to take a stake in his businesses instead of demanding cash. The prince owns the Kingdom Holding global investment company, which has shares in such companies as Twitter and the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.

Bin Talal, whose net worth is estimated to be an astronomic $17 billion, is reportedly suspected of money laundering, bribery and extorting officials. The prince, who was detained among 200 other Royals at the end of the last year, has not officially commented on the allegations.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released from detention, family sources said on Saturday, more than two months after he was taken into custody in the kingdom’s sweeping crackdown on corruption.

Reuters: Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal released, family sources say Saturday 27 January 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1234076/saudi-arabia

His release came hours after he told Reuters in an exclusive interview at the opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be released from custody within days.

Family sources said Prince Alwaleed was released on Saturday. “He has he arrived home,” one told Reuters.

Saudi officials could not immediately be reached for comment and the terms of his release were not immediately clear.

A senior Saudi official said Prince Alwaleed was 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 11:00a.m. (0800 GMT)," the official told Reuters, without giving details of the terms.

Prince Alwaleed had been confined at the Ritz-Carlton since early November, along with dozens of others, part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to consolidate control and reform oil superpower Saudi Arabia.

In his first interview since he was taken into custody in November, Prince Alwaleed told Reuters he was continuing to maintain his innocence of any corruption in talks with authorities.

He said he expected to keep full control of his global investment firm Kingdom Holding Co. without being required to give up assets to the government.


Still, guards surround Saudi prince's palace and he is kept under house arrest, informed sources tell MEE

Billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal released from detention in Saudi Arabia
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/billionaire-al-waleed-bin-talal-released-detention-saudi-arabia-sources-764942131

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has arrived home after being released from his detention in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, Middle East Eye has learned.

The Saudi billionaire had been held in the hotel in the Saudi capital since 4 November after being arrested as part of an anti-corruption crackdown.

Family sources also said the prince was released on Saturday. "He has he arrived home," one told Reuters.

Still, guards were surrounding his palace and he was being kept under house arrest, according to informed sources who spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.

A government source told AFP that he was released following a financial "settlement" with authorities.

"The attorney general this morning approved the settlement with Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal," the source said without disclosing any figures.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), the 32-year-old son of the king, has spearheaded the unprecedented crackdown on corruption among members of the government and royal family as he consolidates his grip on power in the kingdom.

Alwaleed, one of the world's richest men and owner of Kingdom Holding Company, was among some 350 suspects rounded in the crackdown, most of whom have been released after agreeing financial settlements with the kingdom.

According to informed sources, MbS was demanding that Alwaleed sign over ownership of the entire Kingdom Holding Company and Alwaleed had been refusing to do this. If a settlement was not reached, Alwaleed was set to demand a trial.

In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, the prince had said he expected to soon be released.

"There are no charges. There are just some discussions between me and the government," he said in the interview, conducted shortly after midnight. "I believe we are on the verge of finishing everything within days.

"I told the government I'd stay as much as they want because I want the truth to come out on all my dealings and on all things that are around me."

"Only a couple of days till cases of corruption-related settlements are closed in preparation for referring remaining defendants to the public prosecution," state news agency Al Arabiya reported earlier this week, citing what it called an infographic created by the public prosecutor.

"Ninety-five people are still detained."

The government on Friday also released a number of other detainees including Waleed al-Ibhrahim, head of the MBC media giant, Khaled Tuwaijri, former chief of the Saudi royal court, and Turki bin Nasser, former head of the country's meteorology agency.

The government has released other high-profile detainees in recent weeks such as former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah following his "settlement" with authorities reportedly exceeding $1bn.

Authorities have said most of those detained struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom, which could earn state coffers about $100bn.

The windfall settlements will help the government finance a multi-million dollar package announced by King Salman this month to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Al Arabiya television in Davos on Wednesday.

Some critics have labeled the campaign a shakedown, but authorities insist the purge was aimed to target endemic corruption as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

The Ritz-Carlton is set to re-open for business next month as the campaign draws to an end, sources at the hotel have said. Its website lists rooms as available from 14 February.


Several prominent Saudi businessmen being held as part of the kingdom's sweeping anti-corruption crackdown have reportedly reached financial settlements to secure their release, according to a report.

Detained Saudi Businessmen Reach Financial Settlements in Corruption Probe
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961107001560

According to an anonymous source cited by Reuters, those who have agreed terms for their release include Waleed al-Ibrahim, proprietor of regional television network MBC; fashion mogul Fawaz Alhokair; former Royal Court chief Khalid al-Tuwaijri, and Turki bin Nasser, a former head of the country's meteorology and environmental protection agency, New Arab reported.

Details of the settlements were not revealed by the source, but most of those detained have struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom.

Prominent Saudi businessman Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has also been released after more than two months of detention on allegations of corruption, according to a family source.

Prince Al-Waleed, who was arrested among dozens of other royal family members, ministers, and top businessmen, arrived to his residence in Riyadh on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabian billionaire prince detained in the kingdom’s sweeping crackdown on corruption, announced on Saturday that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and released from custody within days, with his vast assets intact.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters at his suite at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on Saturday, bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world, said that he was continuing to maintain his innocence of any corruption in talks with Saudi authorities.

“There are no charges. There are just some discussions between me and the government. I believe we are on the verge of finishing everything within days,” he added.

Elsewhere in his interview, bin Talal, who is a nephew of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, claimed that he had been well treated, rejecting reports of mistreatment and of being moved from Ritz-Carlton Hotel to a prison.

“I have nothing to hide at all. I‘m so comfortable, I‘m so relaxed. I shave here, like at home. My barber comes here. I‘m like at home, frankly speaking,” he said, adding that “I told the government I’d stay as much as they want, because I want the truth to come out on all my dealings and on all things that are around me.”

He further claimed that he was expected to keep control of his global investment company Kingdom Holding without being required to give up assets to the government.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
All Detainees in Saudi Corruption Probe Released from Ritz Carlton - Reports Tue Jan 30, 2018
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961110000550

According to Reuters citing a Saudi official, all detainees in the corruption probe have been released from the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Sputnik reported.

The development comes just days after media reported that Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal had been released from his detention in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel, converted into a luxurious prison to hold royalty and the country's officials.

Over week earlier, Saudi Arabia's former Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf was reportedly also released from the Ritz-Carlton and was cleared from all charges, which allows him to retain his positions as both a minister and king's adviser.


A source close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) disclosed that billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is under house arrest and is banned from leaving the country as he was freed from his five-star prison, Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, after more than two months of detention on allegations of corruption.

Show Must Go on: Saudi Billionaire Not Really Free, Riyadh Only Changes Prison
http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961110001449

A source close to MbS told Daily Mail that the Prince is still being closely watched and not really free, as he was released from detention on Saturday after he made an undisclosed financial settlement with the Saudi government.

The source said the 63-year-old Prince, who is a nephew of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, will have little control over his firm Kingdom Holding Company in the future, while bin Talal had claimed that he was expected to keep control of his global investment company Kingdom Holding without being required to give up assets to the government.

In an exclusive interview with Reuters at his suite at Ritz-Carlton Hotel, bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world, claimed that he had been well treated, rejecting reports of mistreatment and of being moved from Ritz-Carlton Hotel to a prison.

The source announced that the footage was organized after Al-Waleed's release to show he was being treated well, but was not the full story, confirming reports that Al-Waleed's family said the prince arrived home on Saturday.

“I have nothing to hide at all. I‘m so comfortable, I‘m so relaxed. I shave here, like at home. My barber comes here. I‘m like at home, frankly speaking,” the Prince had said, adding that “I told the government I’d stay as much as they want, because I want the truth to come out on all my dealings and on all things that are around me.”

The source added that "He's going to be under house arrest, he's not going to go anywhere. The plan was always to take all his money and then put him under house arrest, but they just had to expedite it because of the BBC asking questions", as the Crown Prince is said to have been angry over a BBC Newsnight documentary which revealed details of Al-Waleed's incarceration.

Saudi authority had demanded at least $6 billion from the prince to free him from detention at the Ritz, according to a report.

His fortune is estimated by Forbes to stand at USD 18.7 billion, which would make him the Middle East’s richest person. His Kingdom Holding, a Riyadh-based investment holding company, owns stakes in hotels like The Four Seasons, Fairmont and Raffles, as well as companies such as News Corp., Disney, 21st Century Fox, Citigroup, GM, Twitter, and Apple.

Saudi Arabia released all of the 200-or-so powerful individuals detained since early November 2017 on corruption charges, as it seems that businessmen and royals have reached deals with the government, according to Reuters citing a Saudi official. Riyadh had claimed that trial proceedings would begin soon for those who continue to deny the charges against them.

Dozens of princes, ministers, and former ministers were detained at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel on the orders of Saudi Arabia’s so-called Anti-Corruption Committee, which is headed by the Crown Prince. The detained individuals are facing corruption allegations but are widely believed to have been victims of a political purge. The royals have also been asked to fork out hefty ransoms reaching billions of dollars in some cases as some have since reached settlements with the government.

The crackdown in Saudi Arabia is widely believed to be aimed at consolidating the crown prince’s grip on power, but it is also speculated that the kingdom is seeking to rejuvenate its economy — hit hard by the fall in oil prices and a costly and protracted war on Yemen — by extorting money from the detainees.

Mohammed bin Salman who has attempted to portray the whole process as an “anti-corruption fight,” has meanwhile been splurging money abroad himself.

In December 2017, it was reported that bin Salman had used a “proxy” to buy Leonardo da Vinci’s painting the Salvator Mundi, which sold for a record $450 million at auction, and a yacht for $500 million. Also, an investigation named Salman as the owner of the Chateau Louis XIV, a mansion outside Paris, which had been sold to him for more than USD 300 million back in 2015.


DUBAI: The Saudi Arabian Attorney General, Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb, said on Tuesday that 56 corruption suspects remained in custody out of the 381 high profile figures detained on graft allegations.

Detainees held at Saudi Arabia’s Ritz-Carlton released or moved, 56 remain in custody: Attorney General Tuesday 30 January 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1235891/saudi-arabia

He said he decided to release all those proven not guilty, as well as others who had agreed financial settlements with the government after admitting to corruption allegations.

Mojeb said the total settlements with the suspects had topped $107 billion, which came in various forms of assets.

News broke earlier on Tuesday that Saudi authorities had released all remaining detainees from Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which had been used as an interrogation center in a crackdown on corruption, according to a Saudi official. “There are no longer any detainees left at the Ritz-Carlton,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity under briefing rules.

He did not say how many suspects remained in detention at other locations in Saudi Arabia. Some are believed to have been moved from the Ritz to prison after refusing to admit wrongdoing and reach financial settlements with the authorities. He said those who remained in custody were still under investigation as the legal procedures continued.

Among top businessmen caught up in the purge were Prince Alwaleed, owner of global investor Kingdom Holding, and Waleed Al-Ibrahim, who controls influential regional broadcaster MBC.

MBC said the investigation found Ibrahim completely innocent of wrongdoing and Prince Alwaleed has insisted he is innocent, although Saudi officials said both men agreed to settlements after admitting unspecified “violations.”

In an interview with Reuters at his suite in the Ritz-Carlton hours before he was released on Saturday, Prince Alwaleed said he had been well-treated in custody and described his case as the result of a misunderstanding.

He showed off the comforts of his suite’s gold-accented private office, a dining room and a kitchen which was fully stocked with his preferred vegetarian meals.

The hotel has 492 guest rooms and suites and 52 acres (21 hectares) of landscaped gardens, according to its website. It has said it will reopen to the public in mid-February, with a nightly rate for its cheapest room of $650.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Walid Fitaihi was transferred to a maximum security prison after being held in the Ritz-Carlton for three months following a sweeping crackdown.

Famous Saudi doctor moved to high-security jail, source says Thursday 1 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/famous-saudi-doctor-faces-maximum-security-prison-sparking-outrage-972726901

A popular Saudi reformist and TV presenter arrested last year in a sweeping corruption probe has been sent to a maximum security prison while his many of his co-accused are granted their freedom, local sources say.

Walid Fitaihi, best-known for the television show Mahyay, was moved from Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton hotel, which was being used to hold many of the high-profile prisoners detained in the round-up, to al-Hair prison south of the capital, according to Saudi activists.

Fitaihi, a doctor who graduated from George Washington University, was first placed on a no-fly list in October before he was detained at the hotel in November, according to activist-led Twitter account Prisoners of Conscience.

The luxury hotel had been used as an interrogation centre, with some detainees being tortured for information on their bank accounts and assets, Middle East Eye has reported.

Fitaihi was among dozens of princes, scholars and businessmen rounded up in the sweeping purge, which the kingdom has painted as a necessary step towards realising economic reforms. Many of those detained were released in recent days.

"There are no longer any detainees left at the Ritz-Carlton," an official told Reuters on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity under briefing rules.

The state news agency, SPA, quoting the attorney general, later said that 56 remain in detention at other locations in Saudi Arabia.

Fitaihi's popular TV show Mahyay is dedicated to conversations around keeping the mind, body and soul healthy. He is also known for his reformist activism and has two million Twitter followers.

Fitaihi also founded and is the CEO of the International Medical Centre (IMC), a hospital in Jeddah. The Fitaihi family is also known for several businesses in the silver and gold trade.

Social media users reacted strongly to the news of Fitaihi's continued detention. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote on Twitter: "What has happened to us? How can someone like Dr Walid Fitahi be arrested and what are the justifications for it?

"Of course everyone is in a state of confusion and helplessness, there is no one you can go to, no public prosecutor has questioned. God help us."

Under the auspices of an anti-corruption committee, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, prominent Saudi princes and businessmen were detained and held in the lavish hotel in Riyadh in November.

Among those held were Prince Mitaib bin Abdullah, previous head of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, billionaire tycoon al-Waleed bin Talal, who has now been released, Abdullah al-Sultan, commander of the Saudi navy, and Khalid al-Mulheim, the former director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines.


RIYADH: Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is back on the job as chairman of global investment firm Kingdom Holding after being released from detention in an anti-corruption campaign, the company said on Thursday.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed back at work after detention, company says
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1237571/saudi-arabia

Prince Alwaleed, one of the country’s top international investors, was freed on Saturday, nearly three months after being taken into custody along with dozens of senior officials and businessmen on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Most detainees have been released, after settlements secured just over $100 billion from members of the elite, the attorney general has said, without providing details.

In his first interview since being detained, conducted hours before his release, Prince Alwaleed told Reuters he maintained his innocence and expected to keep full control of his firm.

A senior Saudi official would not confirm that claim but said any settlements included an admission of guilt.

In the absence of more information, speculation has run rampant about whether Prince Alwaleed secured his freedom by handing over part of his fortune — previously estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion — or stood up to the authorities and won.

He and other tycoons face a challenge to get back into the swing of running their financial empires in the uncertainty hanging over the business community since their detention.

Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of King Salman, holds stakes in major international companies including Citigroup, Twitter, and ride-hailing firm Lyft.

In the first few days after his detention, Kingdom Holding’s share price plunged 23 percent, erasing $2.2 billion of his personal fortune on paper.

After a jump this week, the stock has regained almost all that it lost, but during his detention the overall stock market rose 10 percent. Kingdom shares do not reflect that gain, suggesting investors are still discounting the stock.

Kingdom published a photo of Prince Alwaleed reviewing documents behind a large wooden desk and still sporting the grey beard he grew in detention.
“We are very pleased to welcome back (His Royal Highness) Prince Alwaleed to continue his important work as Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company,” Chief Executive Talal Almaimansaid said.

The firm’s strategy is aligned with the Vision 2030 reform agenda “to create strong investor appeal and a business environment in which KHC and our partners can flourish,” he added.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
After extracting billions from ‘corruption’ cases, Saudis ‘increase royal family allowances by 50%’ February 3, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180203-after-extracting-billions-from-corruption-cases-saudis-increase-royal-family-allowances-by-50/

Saudi Arabia has raised some royal family allowances after extracting billions of dollars from princes, businessmen and officials held on corruption charges, apparently reliable sources have told Bloomberg. Two of the sources claimed that the increase amounts to 50 per cent, with the government no longer paying electricity and water bills for members of the ruling family. A Saudi government official denied the claims.

Dozens of the country’s richest men, including billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, were among those held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh as part of a massive crackdown on corruption in early November, before settlements were made with them under which the state obtained more than $100 billion.

“Monthly salaries are considered as a subject of complaint among some Saudi citizens,” said Bloomberg, “and disclosing that some members of the ruling family received more money is likely to raise more doubts about how serious the government is about curbing spending.”

It is not clear whether the increase in the monthly salary is a one-off bonus or will continue on a monthly basis. Nor is much known about the extent to which these funds are distributed.

“The Saudi Crown Prince may seek to discipline his relatives in the royal family,” Christine Diwan, researcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, pointed out, “but he cannot completely cut ties with them”

Over the past three months, the Saudi authorities have imposed value-added tax and announced sharp increases in fuel prices and public services in an effort to reform public finances. Some of the measures that have been taken were counterproductive. After complaints about price increases, King Salman issued orders to distribute more than 50 billion Saudi Riyals ($13.3 billion) to support ordinary Saudi citizens. The increase in the price of Brent crude oil to around $70 per barrel helped to support such a measure.

“The increase in salaries seems to indicate that the authorities do not have good ideas about how to really reform the economy, which was founded upon easy access to money,” said political risk adviser Melina Rodban in Washington. “The authorities need to address the possible risk of unrest, which is a short-term threat and often outweighs efforts to make long-term changes.”

Members of the ruling House of Saud are numbered in their thousands, and the government has never disclosed how many receive salaries or how much they get. According to a 1996 US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks, members of the royal family receive monthly allowances from birth. The amounts vary according to how close they are to King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the state.

At that time, the monthly payments ranged from $800 to $270,000. The diplomat who sent the cable estimated the total annual cost to the state at $2 billion.

During the past three years of his rise to power, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman has marginalized senior members of the royal family, eased social restrictions on women and vowed to steer Saudi Arabia away from what he calls “radical Islam”.


Renowned Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal gave up most of his fortune, including his shares in Saudi Kingdom Holding, in return for his freedom, US Forbes magazine reported.

Report: Saudi Prince Alwaleed relinquished most of his wealth for freedom January 30, 2018
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180130-report-saudi-prince-alwaleed-relinquished-most-of-his-wealth-for-freedom/

The magazine cited a source familiar with the settlement agreement reached between the Prince and the Saudi authorities as saying that Prince Alwaleed nearly gave up almost all of his assets and will likely be given an allowance.

The source claimed that if Alwaleed decided to travel abroad he will be accompanied by someone chosen by the Saudi government and that if he leaves the country and does not return to Saudi Arabia, the government will press charges and extradite him.

Forbes said the prince’s spokesman has declined to comment on the reports, while a Saudi embassy spokesman in the United States said the embassy has no information on specific individuals because of Saudi privacy laws.

The largest part of Alwaleed’s $17.4 billion fortune lies in Kingdom Holding which accounts for 95 per cent of his wealth. Kingdom Holdings has shares in many companies including Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup amongst others.

The US magazine explained that it is unclear whether the Saudi government will take the step of officially changing the ownership of Kingdom Holding, adding that the Saudi Stock Market still lists Alwaleed as the 95 per cent shareholder in the company.

The 62-year-old Saudi prince also has a large portfolio of properties outside Riyadh.
 
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