In early November of 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a prominent member of the country’s royal family and a wealthy investor, was identified and arrested in connection with a wide-ranging anti-corruption initiative.
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. He is also heavily invested in U.S. corporate giants like Citigroup, Apple, 21st Century Fox, and Twitter, just to name a few. Between 1991 and 1995, the prince had come 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. Forbes estimates Prince Alwaleed’s net worth at $17.4 billion.
For more than 80 days, the Prince had been detained in a luxury suite at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. On Saturday, he gave a video tour of his suite, stating how comfortable he was. “I‘m very comfortable because I‘m in my country; I‘m in my city, so I feel at home. It’s no problem at all. Everything’s fine,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Shortly after the video tour, the royal prince was released and returned to his mansion in Riyadh. This release signified the winding down of a two-and-a-half month operation that Saudi officials were conducting.
“Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades,” the attorney general had announced in a statement when arrests were made. In December, the attorney general said most detainees “agreed to a settlement.” Reuters reported that around 90 detainees had been released and had their charges dropped, while around the same number remain in detention, with some expected to face trial.
Now that he has been freed, the prince is expected to return to the business of managing his vast investment empire. When asked about whether or not his position at Kingdom Holding is expected to change, he said, “Kingdom Holding will remain under my ownership, the same ownership. All these companies are part of Kingdom Holding, which has investments nationally, regionally, internationally and has the highest-price tower in Jeddah. If I retain my ownership in Kingdom Holding, then obviously all the stakes will be retained because they are owned by Kingdom Holding.”