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In Shocking Purge, Saudi King Arrests Billionaire Prince Bin Talal, Others In "Anti-Money Laundering" Crackdown

In a shocking development, Saudi press Al Mayadeen reported late on Saturday that prominent billionaire, member of the royal Saudi family, and one of the biggest shareholders of Citi, News Corp. and Twitter - not to mention frequent CNBC guest - Al-Waleed bin Talal, has been arrested for corruption and money laundering charges, along with several other top officials. Among those arrested are also two sons of late King Abdallah, head of national royal guards and former Emir of Mecca (full details below).

Mass arrests in Saudi Arabia, among those arrested former King Abdallah chief of staff, prince AlWalid Bin Talal, and head of MBC group pic.twitter.com/mpfQ5Qwl9B

— Ali Hashem ??? ???? (@alihashem_tv)

According to Saudi media they were arrested for being involved in corruption and money laundering https://t.co/Si1tuudnIz

— Ali Hashem ??? ???? (@alihashem_tv)

As the local press further adds, the supreme committee chaired by Crown Prince and billionaire stops "on charges of money laundering."

The arrested prince is perhaps best known for his recurring on and off spats with president Trump:

Others arrested include Meteib Bin Abdullah; Walid bin Talal; Khaled Tuweijri; AlWalid Ibrahim; Turki Bin Naser; Adel Fakih

V. BIG Names of Arrests in


•Meteib Bin Abdullah
•Walid bin Talal
•Khaled Tuweijri
•AlWalid Ibrahim
•Turki Bin Naser
•Adel Fakih https://t.co/I9yYZN21XS

— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam)

Additionally, the heads of the main three Saudi owned TV networks were arrested, Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART)

The heads of the main three Saudi owned TV networks were arrested, Alwalid Bin Talal (Rotana), Walid Al Brahim (MBC), Saleh Kamel (ART)

— Ali Hashem ??? ???? (@alihashem_tv)

As Bloomberg adds, Saudi King Salman appointed a former HSBC banker to head the country’s economy ministry and removed one of the royal family’s most prominent princes from as head of the National Guard.

Separately, a number of Saudi princes and former ministers were arrested by authorities hours after the announcement of a new anti-corruption committee, with sweeping powers and headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news service reported.

 

Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, was replaced as minister of the National Guard by Prince Khaled Ayyaf, according to a royal decree carried by state-run media late Saturday. Before his ouster, Prince Miteb was one of the few remaining senior princes to have survived a series of cabinet reshuffles that promoted allies of the crown prince, who is the king’s son and heir to the throne.

 

King Salman has sidelined other senior members of the royal family to prevent any opposition to the crown prince. Prince Mohammed, 32, replaced his elder cousin, Muhammed bin Nayef, as crown prince in June, a maneuver that removed any doubt of how succession plans will unfold following the reign of King Salman, now 81.

While details remain scarce about this "Saturday of the long Saudi knives", DPA also reports that in addition to the arrests, Saudi King Salman on Saturday sacked three senior state officials, the latest in a series of shake-ups in the world's top oil exporter.

Salman relieved Prince Moteib bin Abdullah of his post as minister of the National Guard, replacing him with Khaled bin Ayaf, the official Saudi news agency SPA reported. Additionally, Minister of Economy and Planning Adel al-Faqieh was replaced by Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, SPA said, quoting a royal decree. Commander of the Saudi Navy, Abdullah al-Sultan, was replaced with Fahad al-Ghafli.

No official explanation was given for the sackings.

 

In recent months, the Saudi monarch has carried out a string of reshuffles appointing young people in senior state posts. In June, Salman ousted his nephew as the crown prince and appointed his son Mohammed to become the first in line to succeed him. The monarch on Saturday ordered the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by the crown prince amid a rumoured crackdown on suspected tainted officials and royals. Mohammed, 31, is seen as the driving force behind opening up the ultra-conservative country to the outside world and weaning its economy off oil.

Bin Talal's arrest caps off a bizarre day for Saudi newsflow, which started with the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Saad al-Hariri, who announced he was quitting due to fears of an assassination plot, allegedly organized by Iran, followed shortly after by the Saudi defense forces intercepting a ballistic missile as it was about to strike the capital Riyadh.

To summarise today's even more bizarre Saudi news day:

  • Trump urges Aramco IPO
  • Lebanon PM resigns
  • Saudis intercept missile
  • Major cabinet reshuffle; 3 Saudi princes - who run the anti-graft committee - arrested for money-laundering
  • A total of 11 princes, >30 ministers arrested on corruption

This is a developing story.