Hollywood and technology investor Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia holds a potential “get out of jail” card — but it’s not free.
The prince, who has been held in detention since his November arrest on hazy corruption charges along with dozens of other Saudi royals, reportedly can pay a $6 billion fine to win his freedom, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Even for a man enormously wealthy, that’s a hefty bill.
al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holding company has has held major stakes in Fox, Time Warner, Citigroup, Twitter, Apple, Motorola and many other well-known companies over the years, as well as several satellite television networks that are prominent in the Arab world. If he pays the fine, the company might need to liquidate some or all of those assets.
His arrest came as part of a power struggle to consolidate the grip of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the top adviser of King Salman. At age 32, the Crown Prince is a major voice in Saudi foreign relations, military, economics and social policies, drawing grumbling from other royals.
King Salman decreed a new anti-corruption committee, headed by the crown prince, hours before the arrests. The committee’s broad powers included freezing assets, arrests, travel bans and other areas, all part of any alleged investigation into corruption.
The Saudi government has not revealed details on the alleged graft that caused the arrests. al-Waleed and other royals are being held at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.
The Kingdom board reportedly met in Riyadh last Wednesday, its first public meeting since al-Waleed’s arrest.