Minority owner of the Plaza released from detention in Saudi Arabia

The terms of his release remain unclear, though he retains control of his company

Jan.January 27, 2018 01:00 PM

From left: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and New York’s Plaza Hotel. (Credit: Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz and Getty Images)

Prominent Saudi businessman, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has been released from detention in Riyadh.

Prince Alwaleed, who is a minority owner of the Plaza Hotel and has various other stakes in Western companies ranging from Lyft and Twitter to hotel chains, was detained in November last year in a corruption crackdown ordered by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been leading a series of reforms and changes in the country since ascending to power.

Prince Alwaleed, who was worth as estimated $17 billion at the time, was accused of money laundering, bribery and extortion and detained in the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel along with about 200 others.

Subsequent to his detention, Prince Alwaleed’s company, Kingdom Holding, saw its share vales plummet more than 20 percent, amounting in a $2.2 billion loss for the prince’s net worth, according to the New York Times. The stock has since rebounded to about half of its pre-detention value.

As of last week, reports from Bloomberg indicated detainees were beginning to be released as the hotel resumed taking reservations. However, Prince Alwaleed’s release was still under negotiation with reports alleging control of his company could be in the balance. The Wall Street Journal reported Saudi officials demanded $6 billion; officials reported recovering $100 billion from all detainees.

While the precise terms of the prince’s release today are unclear, a Saudi official confirmed Kingdom Holding remains in Prince Alwaleed’s control. The official also told Reuters a financial settlement was reached after the prince admitted to undisclosed “violations.” Hours before his release, the prince maintained his innocence to Reuters and said he was remaining in the hotel voluntarily.[NYT]Erin Hudson

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