Arrested Saudi Prince al-Waleed Told he Needs $6 Billion to Buy his Freedom

Saudi Arabia's billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal speaks to reporters during a press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on July 1, 2015 (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal speaks to reporters during a press conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on July 1, 2015 (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

After weeks of deafening silence surrounding the fate of Saudi Arabia’s richest man, Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal, arrested last month in an anti-corruption purge, it has emerged authorities in the Gulf monarchy are seeking at least $6 billion for his release.

The 62-year-old head of the Kingdom Holding Co. was rounded up with dozens of Saudi government officials and ten other members of the kingdom’s royal family as part of a probe spearheaded by the heir-apparent to the gulf monarchy, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

While Prince Salman has consistently defended the detention of senior officials as part of a much-needed crackdown on graft, he has been criticized for what detractors have characterized as a thinly veiled power grab.

Prince Bin Talal, who had eschewed an official position in the Saudi government and preferred to focus on his own companies and high-profile projects, had in the past exerted a soft power on world business leaders comparable to that of Bin Salman and his father King Salman.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the $6 billion being sought by Saudi officials is among the highest figures they have demanded for those arrested. At the end of November Prince Mutaib Bin Abdullah, the son of the late King Abdullah, a former head of Saudi Arabia’s national guard and a previous frontrunner to the throne was released for a price of $1 billion.