This material belongs to: The Guardian.
Former contender for throne released from detention after admitting to several accusations, official says.
The senior Saudi prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender for the throne, has been released from detention after paying more than $1bn in a settlement with authorities, a Saudi official said.
Miteb, 65, the son of the late King Abdullah and former head of the elite National Guard, was among dozens of royal family members, ministers and senior officials rounded up as part of a corruption inquiry, partly aimed at strengthening the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The official, who is involved in the anti-corruption campaign, said Miteb was released on Tuesday after reaching “an acceptable settlement agreement”. The amount was not disclosed but the official said it is believed to be the equivalent of more than $1bn (£745m).
“It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption involving known cases,” the official said.
A Saudi official said the prince was accused of embezzlement, hiring non-existent employees and awarding contracts to his own firms, including a $10bn deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals.
The allegations against the others who were detained included kickbacks, inflating government contracts, extortion and bribery.
The claims could not be independently verified.
Saudi authorities had been working on striking agreements with some of those in detention, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.
News of the purge emerged in early November, soon after King Salman decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by Prince Mohammed, his 32-year-old favourite son, who has amassed power since his rapid rise three years ago.
The body was given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and seize assets.
Apart from Miteb, the Saudi official said that at least three other people allegedly involved in corruption cases had finalised settlement agreements.
The public prosecutor had decided to release a number of individuals and to prosecute at least five. The official gave no details of their identities.
The authorities have not revealed detailed charges against any of the detainees. It was also unclear whether Miteb would have full freedom or if he would be put under house arrest. Officials from Miteb’s office could not immediately be reached for comment. An acquaintance of the family said earlier on Twitter that Miteb was receiving brothers and sons at his palace in Riyadh.
Among the 11 princes, four serving ministers, dozens of former ministers and officials, and tycoons detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh was the kingdom’s best-known businessman, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns stakes in global companies such as Citigroup and Twitter.
However, many observers believe the primary target of the purge was Prince Miteb, who was in charge of the 100,000-strong National Guard and represented the last significant centre of power left standing after the toppling of the former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.
By launching a war on corruption, Prince Mohammed bin Salman combined a popular cause with the elimination of perhaps the last obstacles between him and the throne.
As the Sandhurst-trained preferred son of King Abdullah, Miteb was once thought to be a leading contender for the throne.
Before he was sacked by a royal decree on 4 November, he was the last remaining member of Abdullah’s Shammar branch of the family to retain a key position at the top of the Saudi power structure, after brothers Mishaal and Turki were relieved of their posts as governors in 2015.
Saudi prince was freed after ‘agreeing to pay more than $1 billion to settle corruption allegations’
This material belongs to: The Telegraph.
Senior Saudi Arabian prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, has been freed after agreeing to pay over $1 billion (£745 million) to settle corruption allegations against him, a Saudi official said on Wednesday.
Prince Mutaib, 65, the son of former King Abdullah ,and former head of the elite National Guard, was among dozens of royal family members, high officials and senior businessmen rounded up this month in a crackdown on graft that has strengthened the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The official, who is involved in the crackdown and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Prince Mutaib was released on Tuesday after reaching “an acceptable settlement agreement”. The official said he believed the agreed sum to be the equivalent of over $1 billion.
“It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption involving known cases,” the official said, without giving details.
According to the official, Prince Prince Mutaib was accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to his own firms, including a deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear.
Prince Mutaib is the first senior figure known to be released among those detained. Around 200 people in total have been questioned in the crackdown, authorities said earlier this month.
The allegations, which include kickbacks, inflating government contracts, extortion and bribery, could not be independently verified.
Saudi authorities, who estimate they could eventually recover around $100 billion of illicit funds, have been working on reaching agreements with suspects detained at Riyadh’s luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.
Apart from Prince Mutaib, the Saudi official said that at least three other suspects had finalised settlement agreements and that the public prosecutor had decided to release several individuals.
The prosecutor has decided to put at least five people on trial, the official said without disclosing their identities.
The fate of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, chairman of investment firm Kingdom Holding and one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent international businessmen, was not known.
Kingdom issued a statement earlier this month saying it was continuing to operate normally but has not responded to queries about his status since he was detained early this month.
Two Saudi sources told Reuters that Prince Alwaleed has so far refused to reach a settlement and had asked for access to his lawyer in order to fight allegations against him.
Relatives, his lawyer and officials in his office could not be contacted to comment.