Saudi princes targeted in anti-corruption sweep

Posted at 2:45 PM, Nov 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-05 14:45:13-05

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been arrested as part of an anti-corruption sweep in the kingdom.

The billionaire businessman was among at least 17 Saudi princes and top officials detained on Saturday, according to a list obtained by CNN and cited by a senior royal court official.

Reports of his arrest saw $750 million wiped off Prince Alwaleed’s fortune Sunday.

Shares in the prince’s Kingdom Holding company fell as much as 9.9%, before closing down 7.6% in Riyadh.

Prince Alwaleed owns 95% of Kingdom Holding, which holds stakes in global companies, including Citigroup, Twitter, Apple and New York’s Plaza Hotel.

The remaining 5% is listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange. Kingdom Holding was worth about $10 billion before Sunday’s share price drop.

Kingdom Holding did not respond to a request for comment.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an anti-corruption committee by King Salman bin Abudlaziz Al-Saud. Three government ministers were removed from their positions.

Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General, Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb, said the committee had begun a number of investigations in a bid to combat corruption.

“Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and everyone’s legal rights will be preserved,” he said in a statement.

King Salman ordered the anti-corruption purge as part of an “active reform agenda aimed at tackling a persistent problem that has hindered development efforts in the Kingdom in recent decades,” the Saudi Ministry of Communications said in a statement.

His son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is heading the committee, which has the authority to investigate, arrest, issue travel bans and freeze the assets of those it finds corrupt. He is also the man leading an ambitiouseconomic overhaul to reduce the country’s dependence on oil over the next decade.