Saudi Arabia released billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal today nearly three months after his arrest in an anti-corruption drive targeting the kingdom's elite, a business associate told AFP.
"He (Prince Al-Waleed) is out," the associate said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Prince Al-Waleed, dubbed the Warren Buffett of Saudi Arabia, was among some 350 suspects rounded up since November 4, including billionaire tycoons and ministers who were detained in Riyadh's luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel. Prince Al-Waleed is the latest in a series of high- profile detainees to be freed from the hotel. The terms of his release were not immediately clear.
Authorities have previously said most of those detained struck monetary settlements in exchange for their freedom, which could earn state coffers about USD 100 billion.
Another high-profile detainee, former National Guard chief Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, was released recently following his "settlement" with authorities which reportedly exceeded USD 1 billion.
The windfall settlements will help the government finance a multi-million dollar package announced by King Salman this month to help citizens cope with the rising cost of living, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan told Al Arabiya television in Davos on Wednesday.
Some critics have labelled the campaign a shakedown, but authorities insist the purge targeted endemic corruption as Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify its oil-dependent economy.
The Ritz-Carlton is set to reopen for business next month as the campaign draws to an end, sources at the hotel have said. Its website lists rooms as available from February 14.