Saudi Arabian billionaire released from custody in corruption

Vastavam web: Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the kingdom’s top international businessmen, was released from detention on Saturday, more than two months after he was taken into custody in a sweeping crackdown on corruption.His release came hours after he told Reuters in an interview at Riyadh’s opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be freed within days.A senior Saudi official said Prince Alwaleed was freed after he reached a financial settlement with the attorney general.

The decision to free him, and the release of several other well-known tycoons on Friday, suggested the main part of the corruption probe was winding down after it sent shockwaves through Saudi Arabia’s business and political establishment.A Gulf banker who deals with Saudi Arabia said the authorities appeared keen to conclude the probe partly because foreign investors were concerned their assets or local business partners could be targeted in the wide-ranging crackdown.“The government is signalling that it wants to move to a new phase now, away from the crackdown and into other economic reforms,” the banker said.

Outside Prince Alwaleed’s Riyadh palace, dozens of cars lined the entrances as a huge Saudi flag flapped above. Guards cracked jokes and drank coffee. His office said the prince was out visiting family, but declined to give any details.The attorney general said earlier this week that 90 detainees had been released after their were charges dropped, while others traded cash, real estate and other assets for their freedom. The authorities were still holding 95 people, he said. Some are expected to be put on trial.

An official Saudi source said on Friday that several prominent businessmen had reached financial settlements with the authorities, including Waleed al-Ibrahim, owner of regional television network MBC, who was released. Terms of his settlement were not revealed.