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Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal released after corruption crackdown

Billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released after almost three months in detention.

Dubbed the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia, Prince Alwaleed was the most high-profile among 350 suspects rounded up since November during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on alleged corruption.

They included business tycoons and ministers who were held in Riyadh’s luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The 62-year-old is one of King Salman’s nephews and the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company – one of the largest shareholders in the banking giant Citigroup that also holds stakes in Twitter, Apple, AOL, eBay and many others.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index says he is the 50th richest man in the world. Forbes puts his wealth at $17bn (£12bn).

It is not clear what the terms of the release are but the government had previously said that most of those detained had agreed financial settlement to secure their release.

:: What you need to know about detained Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

The Saudi information ministry has not responded to requests for comment.

Prince Alwaleed is the latest in a batch of high-profile detainees to be freed from the hotel as the anti-corruption campaign begins to wind down.

Media mogul Waleed al-Ibrahim, owner of influential Arab satellite network MBC, was released on Friday.

Ibrahim held a family gathering at his residence after his release according to three MBC employees.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel, Riyadh
Business tycoons and ministers were held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel

It has been reported that authorities had ordered Ibrahim to hand over his controlling stake in MBC to secure his release but this has not been confirmed.

Another high-profile detainee, former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, was released recently following his “settlement” with authorities.

The government said most of those detained agreed monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom, which could earn state coffers about $100bn.(£70bn).

Most detainees agreed on financial settlements in “cash, real estate and other assets”, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television has reported.

The cash will help a government finance package announced by King Salman to help citizens with the soaring cost of living, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said.

Crown Prince Mohammed, the 32-year-old son of the king, has spearheaded the unprecedented crackdown on corruption among members of the government and royal family.

The Ritz-Carlton is set to reopen for business next month, and its website lists rooms available from 14 February.

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