Detained Saudi princes offered freedom deals

Detained Saudi princes offered freedom deals

Saudi authorities are negotiating settlements with princes and businessmen held over allegations of corruption, offering deals for the detainees to pay for their freedom.

The Saudi government is looking to appropriate as much as 70% of a suspect's wealth in some cases, the Financial Times reported. The settlements have the potential to channel hundreds of billions of dollars into depleted state funds.

Some of the suspects, many of whom have been detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh since last week, are keen to secure their release by signing over cash and corporate assets, say people close to the negotiations.

At the start of November, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman suddenly ordered the arrest of powerful royals and businessmen. Kingdom officials described the extraordinary purge as a crackdown on corruption while others called the exercise a power grab meant to smooth the way for the 32-year-old's anticipated rise to the throne.

The crackdown resulted in the detention of hundreds of royals, ministers and some of the Saudi Arabia's richest tycoons. Among those removed from power was billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the founder of the Middle East Broadcasting Center.

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