Saudi Arabia’s government crackdown on its most powerful and richest men has put $33 billion of personal wealth at risk, according to Bloomberg.
The arrests have implicated three of the country’s richest people, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the kingdom’s second- and fifth-wealthiest people, as well as a travel-agency mogul and Bakr bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s brother and a scion of a one of the country’s biggest construction empires.
According to Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, the arrests are part of a fight against corruption. The government reportedly froze the accounts of the more than three dozen men detained. The detained are believed to be held at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.
Alwaleed bin Talal is the wealthiest among the detained, with estimated wealth of $19 billion. He owns stakes in Twitter, News Corp. and Citigroup. He is a nephew of the late Saudi ruler, King Abdullah, and a grandson of Lebanon’s first prime minister, Riad El-Solh. His Kingdom Holding Group released a statement saying it “enjoys a solid financial position” and the government has “full confidence” in the company.
Mohammed Al Amoudi’s estimated wealth is $10.1 billion. His assets include Svenska Petroleum Exploration and Preem, Sweden’s biggest oil refiner. He owns Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-based Midroc Gold, the country’s biggest miner, as well as hotels, an oil company, and coffee and rice farms. Al Amoudi’s London-based spokesman said in a statement on November 6 that the arrest “is an internal matter for the kingdom and we have no further comment to make other than to say that the overseas businesses owned by the Sheikh remain unaffected by this development.”
Saleh Kamel, with estimated wealth $3.7 billion, is regarded as one of the pioneers of Islamic finance, a method of banking that complies with Islamic law and is today a $2.2 trillion industry. He founded Manama, Bahrain-based Albaraka Banking Group, an Islamic bank with $23.4 billion in assets at the end of 2016. Albaraka Banking Group’s Egypt subsidiary said in a statement that the arrest didn’t have a direct impact on the company and that Kamel didn’t serve on the subsidiary’s board. Kamel is chairman of the board at the parent company.
Nasser Al Tayyar, $600 million, is the founder of publicly traded Al Tayyar Travel Group Holding Co., one of Saudi Arabia’s largest travel agencies. The company said in a statement to the Saudi Stock Exchange that its operations are continuing, and that it’s safeguarding the interests of its customers and shareholders.
Bakr bin Laden, the brother of Osama bin Laden, heads one of the kingdom’s largest construction companies, Saudi Binladin Group. The company had revenue of $3 billion in 2016, and ownership is split among more than 20 descendants, according to Orbis, a database of company information published by Bureau van Dijk.
More on the issue:
- Oil Spiders
- On Edge Of Regional War: Saudi Arabia Says Lebanon, Hezbollah Declared War On Riyadh
- Second Saudi Prince Is Dead In 24 Hours: This Time In Firefight With Security Forces
- Saudi Banks Begin Freezing Accounts Of Arrested Royals, Private Jets Grounded
- Saudi Arabia Blames Iran For Military Aggression, Cites Potential “Act Of War”
- Saudi Prince Killed In A Helicopter “Crash”
- In Shocking Purge, Saudi King Arrests Billionaire Prince Bin Talal, Dozens Of Others In Cabinet Crackdown