Jailed billionaire Saudi prince negotiating settlement: Official
Billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, who has been detained for more than two months as part of a royal purge, is reportedly negotiating a possible settlement with authorities, amid reports that he has been subjected to torture in detention.
A senior Saudi official requesting anonymity said on Sunday that bin Talal had offered to pay a fee for his release, but it did not match the amount demanded by authorities.
“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.
A second informed source told Reuters on Saturday that the Saudi prince had offered to make a “donation” to the Riyadh regime from assets of his own choosing, avoiding any admission of wrongdoing.
However, the Saudi government had rejected those terms, the source added.
Prince al-Waleed was one of the businessmen and royals rounded up in November 2017 in an alleged “anti-corruption campaign” spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Observers said the campaign was actually meant to consolidate bin Salman’s power and silence his critics.
Bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world, faces allegations of extortion, bribery and money laundering.
The Saudi attorney general says most of the high-profile figures arrested as part of a so-called anti-graft purge in the kingdom agree to monetary settlements.
Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that the authorities in Saudi Arabia were a whopping demanding $6 billion from bin Talal in return for his release.
A source close to the prince told the American daily that he “wants a proper investigation. It is expected that al-Waleed will give [bin Salman] a hard time.”
Meanwhile, reports say bin Talal was reportedly hung upside down and beaten at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, which was turned into a prison for the detained Saudi royals and businessmen.
Earlier this week, the prince was transferred from Ritz-Carlton Hotel to maximum-security al-Ha’ir Prison, according to the London-based Arabic news website Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
That is the place where Saudi Arabia uses to jail political activists and terror suspects.
The Middle East news portal also reported on January 1 that the father of the detained billionaire had gone on hunger strike in protest at the detention of Waleed and his two brothers as part of the crackdown. He has refused to eat since November 10 and has lost 10 kilos in one month, the report said.
Sources told the website that all the Ritz-Carlton detainees, nearly 60, had been moved to the prison.
Eyewitnesses said security forces, police, royal guards and army units had almost disappeared from the hotel’s vicinity, while an online booking site listed Ritz-Carlton as available for next month.
Many of the detainees have been released so far after forking out exorbitant amounts.
In late November, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, head of the Saudi National Guard, was released after paying a reported $1 billion.