Saturday, January 16, 2021

Has Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Really Paid $6 Billion for His Release?

The Saudi authorities have asked Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal to pay at least $6 Billion for his release, “which would jeopardize his global business empire. According to the Wall Street Journal, the amount demanded from Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is amongst the highest sought by the Saudi leadership from any detainees.

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, 62, is one of the dozens of princes, government officials and businessmen held in a wave of arrests described by the Saudi government as the first installment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign to counter widespread corruption.

Saudi authorities have given few details of their allegations against the defendants, many of whom have been released from their temporary confinement at the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh after paying massive amounts.

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Prince Al-Waleed previously indicated that paying the amount to Saudi authorities meant accepting the guilt, which would dismantle the financial empire he had built for a quarter of a century.

But the WSJ quoted the same sources as saying that Prince Al-Waleed was negotiating with the government about his willingness to relinquish a large stake in his holding company owned by King Abdullah.

A close associate of the Saudi billionaire said Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, who currently heads the company’s board, wants to keep a leading role in the new company, which will have the state’s support. According to a senior Saudi official, Prince Alwaleed faces charges of money laundering, bribery and extortion.

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But Salah al-Hejailan, a prominent lawyer who had worked with Prince Al-Waleed in the past and has been in contact with his family, said no formal charges have been brought against Prince Al-Walid, and the prosecutor only had one case against him if no understanding was reached.

He has already instructed his close associates that he is determined to prove his innocence and will do his utmost best to refute the allegations of corruption in the courts. Prince Al-Waleed’s wealth is estimated at $ 18.7 billion, making him the wealthiest person in the Middle East, according to Forbes magazine, which publishes annual lists of the richest people in the world.

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Saudi officials have predicted that the state would generate billions of dollars through settlements with the detainees. In this regard, the WSJ pointed out that Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was once seen as a leading contender for the throne, paid more than $ 1 billion for his release.

Prince Al-Waleed was considered an “independent Saudi ambassador in the world of business and trade”. He held big stakes in giant companies such as Apple, General Motors and Newswire before selling them all. He is currently a major shareholder in Twitter besides other organizations.

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