Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a prominent member of the country’s royal family and a wealthy investor, has been identified and arrested in connection with a wide-ranging anti-corruption initiative, according to multiple reports.
The billionaire is an American-educated philanthropist and investor who is heavily invested in U.S. corporate giants like Citigroup, Apple, 21st Century Fox, and Twitter, just to name a few. Between 1991 and 1995, Bin Talal came to the rescue of President Donald Trump, whose real estate empire was under strain. He purchased a yacht, and invested in Trump’s Plaza Hotel. In 2015, Bin Talal announced he would donate his entire fortune to help build a “better world of tolerance, acceptance, equality and opportunity for all.”
Saudi Arabia announced Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s arrest on Saturday night, along with 10 other princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers. The announcement of the arrests was made over Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network whose broadcasts are officially approved.
“The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable,” the royal decree said.
Bin Talal controls the investment firm Kingdom Holding and is one of the world’s richest men. The prince also controls satellite television networks watched across the Arab world.
The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman. At 32, the crown prince is already the dominant voice in Saudi military, foreign, economic and social policies, stirring rumors of discontent in the royal family that he has amassed too much personal power at a remarkably young age.
Saudi Arabia’s stock index was dragged down briefly but recovered to close higher as some investors bet the crackdown could bolster reforms in the long run.
The royal decree said the arrests were in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.”