Rabat- Just a few days after Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released from detention, Saudi authorities on Tuesday released all remaining detainees from the luxury Ritz-CarltonRitz-Carlton Hotel, a Saudi official said on Tuesday.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had ordered the arrest and detention of about 200 Saudi dignitaries and top officials for more than three months. “There are no longer any detainees left at the Ritz-Carlton,” an anonymous Saudi official told Reuters.
The kingdom’s attorney general, Saud Al-Mojeb, said in a statement that 56 individuals remain in custody due to “other pending criminal cases, in order to continue the investigations process, and in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.”
In late November, Saudi Arabia’s strongman crown prince ordered the arrests as part of anti-corruption crackdown, claiming that over USD 100 billion had been lost to embezzlement and corruption in the past decades.
The massive and unprecedented purge came hours after a Saudi royal decree announced the formation of an anti-corruption commission headed by the crown prince who promptly ordered a high-profile cabinet reshuffle. To date, the complete list of former detainees is still unknown but is said to comprise at least 11 princes, including 62-year-old Bin Talal, who faced accusations of money laundering, corruption and extortion.
The majority of those detained were released after negotiating their exit for very large sums of money. Bin Talal’s sum, though, is believed to be one of the largest sought by the Saudi authorities; reportedly at least $6 billion in exchange for his freedom, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Some of the detainees are believed to have been moved from the Ritz to a prison after “refusing to admit wrongdoing and reach financial settlements with the authorities.”
The attorney general has indicated that the estimated value of settlements currently stands at more than $106 billion. Al-Mojeb said the settlements reached include seizure of real estate assets, commercial entities, securities and cash.
As the detainees have been moved from the five-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel, the latter is expected to reopen to the public in February. According to its website, the hotel is taking bookings again beginning 14 February.