The billionaire prince holds many interests in several multinationals like Twitter and Apple. He was released Saturday after three months of detention as part of an unprecedented purge in the kingdom.
He is considered a supporter of a modernization of Saudi Arabia, and is one of the largest fortunes in the world. The Saudi billionaire, Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, was released on Saturday, said one of his associates. As a reminder, he had been arrested last November, as part of a massive purge operation in the country, and held in the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Ryad. Princes, ministers and personalities were detained after the establishment of an anti-corruption commission presided by the crown prince, Mohammed Ben Salmane, new strongman of the country.
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But how did Prince Al-Walid manage to secure his release? According to a government source, a financial "arrangement" was concluded with the Attorney General, without giving any specific details, AFP said. The amount of the transaction remains unknown. This decision comes as several people are detained are gradually being released. Prince Metab Ben Abdallah, son of the late King Abdullah, was released after paying more than $ 1 billion in a "settlement deal" with authorities according to Bloomberg News. The Saudi state hopes to recover 100 billion dollars - or 15% of GDP - through these agreements with the rest of the detainees, said Mohammed Ben Salman in an interview at New York Times published last November. Earlier this week, the attorney general said that 90 individuals have been released, while 95 people are still detained.
A revalued fortune?
Thanks to this agreement, Prince Al-Walid was able to return home during the morning. His entourage told Reuters he visits his family, without giving more details. This 62-year-old businessman is the grandson of two historical figures of the Arab world: King Abdelaziz al-Saoud, founder of Saudi Arabia, and Riad al-Solh, the first head of government in the history of Lebanon. He is also a key figure in the Saudi economy. As a reminder, the sexagenarian holds the Kingdom Holding Company at 95%. The announcement of his arrest had caused serious turmoil on the stock market, since the price of the company has lost up to 15% of its value. Asked by Reuters on Saturday, an official source said it will remain "assuredly" at the head of this investment company. On Sunday, the share price of the Kingdom Holding jumped by 10% - the maximum allowed on the Ryad Stock Exchange. He thus regains his level before the arrest.
Kingdom Holding Company owns more than 200 hotels around the world, like the famous Parisian establishment George-V - bought in 1996. Al-Walid Ben Talal, still through this holding company, has interests in many American multinationals, like Citigroup, Apple and the Euro Disney amusement park. It is also one of Twitter's investors, but the volume of its shares remains opaque, due to the confidentiality policy of Kingdom Holding Company. Al-Walid is also a philanthropist. The "Alwaleed Philanthropies" foundation is committed to activating its networks to finance renewable energy projects in Africa. In 2015, he pledged to donate his entire fortune to this foundation.
The magazine Forbes estimated in 2017 that the prince weighed 18.7 billion dollars, which put him in 45th place in his last ranking of world fortunes. But since the publication of this annual ranking, things seem to have changed somewhat. If we rely on the real-time ranking established by the American magazine, his fortune is estimated at $ 17.4 billion. He goes down to 79th place.