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Prominent Saudi billionaire, Alwaleed bin Talal, 'released'

ANI | Updated: Jan 27, 2018 19:34 IST

Beirut [Lebanon], Jan 27 (ANI): A prominent Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has been released from detention in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Lebanese capital, after he was arrested over allegations of corruption on Saturday, according to two close associates of his family.

The arrest of Prince Alwaleed had shocked the international business community. His net worth has been estimated by 2017 Forbes magazine at a whopping 18 billion dollars. The release of Alwaleed may reassure investors in his business empire. He is also a member of the powerful Saudi ruling family.

He is the owner of a Saudi private firm, Kingdom Holding. He exercises a lot of influence directly or indirectly through his own firm. He also holds sizable stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup, according to the New York Times.

The Saudi billionaire has done business with some of the corporate moguls of the world, such as Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Michael R. Bloomberg.

His investments span across the globe as well. He holds stakes in Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris, the Savoy in London and the Plaza in New York. He has also invested in the AccorHotels chain and Canary Wharf, the London business development.

Altogether, he has been referred to as the "Warren Buffett of the Middle East."

It was still unclear what led to the release of Prince Alwaleed as the Saudi Government has not disclosed the matter citing privacy rules.

Some people had speculated earlier that he had taken a royal loan after his investments sank dramatically due to the 2007-08 worldwide economic meltdown. Others say that he was extremely angry and had criticised Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman for his erroneous economic reforms in the country.

Crown Prince Mohammed, who is leading the efforts on what the Saudi government called it an "anti-corruption campaign", said that the campaign could recover more than 100 billion dollars in illegal means. He is also pushing for diversifying Saudi's economy away from oil and to relax its strict social conventions.

However, his critics have alleged that the "anti-corruption campaign", spearheaded by the Crown Prince, is a ploy aimed at increasing his control of the economy while cutting down rivals for power and prominence.

Meanwhile, Prince Alwaleed said that he wanted to clear his name from any wrongdoings and said that his arrest was a "mistake" and Saudi authorities were "misunderstood".

Prince Alwaleed was arrested in Saudi Arabia in November last year, in an "anti-corruption campaign", along with other businessmen, such as Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim and Saleh Abdullah Kamel to name a few.

The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery, and extorting officials. (ANI)