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Jailed Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal 'offers to pay up' for freedom

Alwaleed bin Talal is being required to pay up in return for his freedom [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 January, 2018

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Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s most famous billionaire prince, is negotiating a possible settlement with authorities in return for ending his two months detention in an anti-corruption crackdown.

Saudi Arabia's most famous billionaire prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, is negotiating a possible settlement with authorities in return for ending his two months detention in an anti-corruption crackdown.

According to a senior Saudi official who spoke to Reuters, a sum has not yet been agreed.

"He offered a certain figure but it doesn't meet the figure required from him, and until today the attorney-general hasn't approved it," the official said on condition of anonymity.

A second source familiar with Prince Alwaleed's case told Reuters on Saturday that the price had offered to make a "donation" to the Saudi government, which would avoid any admission of wrongdoing, and to do so from assets of his own choosing.

The government refused those terms, the source said.

Reuters said the prince's Kingdom Holding company's share price jumped as much as 9.8 percent on Sunday in response to news of the negotiations, adding about $860 million to the company's capitalisation.

The stock price was still seven percent below its level just before Prince Alwaleed was detained.

Since early November Prince Alwaleed has been held - along with dozens of other members of Saudi Arabia's political and business elite detained in the crackdown - in Riyadh's opulent Ritz Carlton hotel as authorities seek to reach settlements with the detainees.

Saudi officials say they aim to claw back some $100 billion of funds that "rightfully belong to the state". Critics say this amounts to a shake down to boost the plans of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery and extorting officials

The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, a Saudi official told Reuters soon after his detention. Neither he nor his company has commented publicly on the charges.

Kingdom Holding, which has said it is continuing to operate normally, did not respond to requests for comment when asked about any settlement talks.

Prince AlWaleed formed Kingdom Holding in 1979 and initially poured money into real estate in Riyadh before venturing into Wall Street, investing heavily in Citigroup.

Kingdom Holding is one of Saudi Arabia's most important investors with shares in the Euro Disney theme park, US tech giant Apple and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, among others.

It also has key stakes in banks at home and abroad, as well as a number of investment, media and agricultural companies.

Aside from a stake in Citigroup, Prince al-Waleed, 62, owns significant stakes in Twitter, ride-hailing firm Lyft and Time Warner.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal made headlines in 2015 when he called Donald Trump a "disgrace" on Twitter during the US election campaign.

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