On Saturday 4 November 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (“KSA”) announced the arrests of the prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and other influential business tycoons alongside at least 11 princes and 30 former and current Ministers.
Reports indicate that the individuals who were arrested are currently being held in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, in the capital city of Riyadh.
The arrests took place hours after King Salman announced the formation of the anti-corruption commission. His son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“Crown prince”), was appointed as the leader of the commission.
Shortly before the arrests, King Salman replaced the minister in charge of the KSA national guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, who also controlled the last of the three KSA armed forces not yet considered to be under the control of the Crown prince. Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah was a favoured son of the late King Abdullah. He has now been arrested and accused of embezzlement, awarding contracts to his own companies and hiring ghost employees.
This unprecedented action comes at the same time as Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned whilst on a trip to KSA, causing the coalition government in Lebanon to collapse. There has been speculation that that al-Hariri is being detained in KSA, however al-Hariri’s allies deny this.
Furthermore, on the evening of Sunday 5 November 2017, Prince Mansour bin Muqrin was killed in a helicopter crash near the border with Yemen with no explanation.
Initially KSA’s attorney-general, Sheikh Saud Al Mojeb, said that the corruption suspects will retain access to their funds, property and legal privilege. However, the private airport in Riyadh is said to be closed, preventing people escaping by private jet. As the situation unfolds, it is now reported that bank accounts have been frozen and companies are being taken over as new parties are being brought in to run them. There has been speculation by many international observers as to whether the formation of the anti-corruption commission is a genuine effort to deal with corruption or a consolidation of authority in KSA and a repositioning of the Middle East alliances and power play.
As the situation unfolds, Gherson is monitoring on-going events closely. We have a strong history, with over 29 years experience, of dealing with the most complex and political cases from all over the world. Should you require assistance, please contact one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 724 4488.
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