Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption committee has just arrested dozens of current and former government ministers and princes, including the famous billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who holds stakes in global companies like Apple and Citigroup. The multiple arrests were part of a massive anti-corruption sweep. As a result, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud’s control over the kingdom has been further cemented.
An employee of Kingdom Holding, a company that’s 95% owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, said that the royal has been detained overnight. According to the high-level employee, he received a lot of calls from multiple security bodies that notified him of the prince's arrest. The same employee wanted to remain anonymous because he was afraid of repercussions.
The Associated Press tried to contact Kingdom Holding for an official statement, but the news agency was given silence as a response on Sunday morning.
At the time of the arrests, Saudi Arabia’s stock market fell by 1.5 percent in just 8 short minutes of trading. According to Reuters, Kingdom Holding experienced a 9.9 percent plunge.
Prince Alwaleed is among the richest people in the Middle East. He has invested in many companies like Apple, Citigroup, Twitter, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, and a couple of hotel chains. Aside from that, he also invested in Careem and Lyft, two of Uber’s many competitors.
It’s important to note that the prince is among those who are considered as controversial Saudi royals. He has long advocated for women’s rights of in Saudi Arabia.
Official state media did not make any reports on the arrests. However, the top clerics council of the kingdom released a statement saying that it's their Islamic duty to do everything possible to fight corruption. Basically, the statement that was released by the kingdom gave religious support to all of the recent high-profile arrests.
Al-Arabiya, a satellite news channel, gave a report on the arrests saying that dozens of top officials and princes had been detained. The probe was launched by Saudi's newest anti-corruption committee led by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince.
Crown Prince’s bureau manager tweeted the names of some of the princes that have been arrested including Miteb bin Abdullah, late King Abdullah's powerful son. Prince Miteb was stripped of his post as the National Guard head overnight.
Al-Arabiya gave an account of Saudi's anti-graft committee, which is looking into the deadly floods that devastated most parts of Jeddah in 2009. They are also looking into the response of the government to the MERS virus, which killed hundreds of people in the Middle East years ago.
There have been rumors that the detained officials and princes are being held at Riyadh's Ritz Carlton. The hotel's phone number has been disconnected since Sunday. As for the spokeswoman of the hotel, she didn’t give any comment on the reports. The same hotel hosted a huge major investment conference just weeks ago.