Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Released From Hotel Detention

Saudi Arabian royal Al Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud looking on during a meeting with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake in Colombo. AFP file

A prominent Saudi billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has been released from a two-month detention after paying a settlement in an anti-corruption bust.

His release came hours after he said in an interview at Riyadh's opulent Ritz-Carlton hotel that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing and be freed within days. Authorities said those who don't settle will face trial.

Saudi authorities claim it will help finance a 50 billion royal ($13.3 billion) package to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, although there still appears to be little transparency in upper echelons of government.

The crown prince, who has consolidated power rapidly since his father's ascension to the throne three years ago, has demonstrated "he's not afraid to step on some toes", Cafiero said.

Critics say crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is King Salman's son and heir, has used the purported anti-corruption campaign to sideline potential rivals and seize control of influential businesses run by numerous scions detained in the probe.

The terms of his release are unclear but the government has said that most detainees have agreed on financial settlements in exchange for their freedom as the anti-corruption campaign winds down.

The anti-corruption campaign in Saudi Arabia is coming to an end after a number of those summoned by the Supreme Committee to Combat Corruption returned to their homes, including those who had been accused of corruption, witnesses and those with relevant information.

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But Prince Alwaleed says he expects to keep all his assets and full control of his investment firm Kingdom Holding Co.

He said he is innocent and has not given up any assets.

The release of Prince Alwaleed, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $17bn, may reassure investors in his business empire. "I'm so comfortable, I'm like at home, frankly speaking".

But the official gave no details, beyond saying Prince Alwaleed would continue to head Kingdom Holding.

They had their smartphones taken away, but could communicate with family or business executives during detention from phones in their rooms.

Directly or indirectly through Kingdom Holding, he holds stakes in firms such as Twitter Inc and Citigroup Inc, and has invested in top hotels including the George V in Paris and the Plaza in NY.

His refrigerator was stocked with vegetarian meals as requested, and he had tennis shoes for exercise, Reuters reported.

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