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Some of the Saudi princes, politicians and wealthy businessmen detained in November in an anti-corruption purge have been released.

Among those set free are Waleed al-Ibrahim, the head of MBC television network, and Khalid al-Tuwaijiri, a former chief of the royal court.

According to reports, they have paid substantial financial settlements, though the amounts have not been made public.

More than 200 Saudis were detained in the crackdown.

Since then, they have been held in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which is due to reopen on February 14.

The settlements are likely to have been costly.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was released at the end of November, paid more than $1 billion.

Image source Wikimedia

Saudi Arabia $100 Billion Scandal: Over 200 People Detained in Anti-Corruption Purge

Media reports suggest that Waleed al-Ibrahim’s deal may have included his controlling share in MBC – the largest media company in the Middle East.

The anti-corruption drive was instigated by Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who has been accused of using the investigation to remove opponents and consolidate his power.

In the aftermath of the purge, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said at least $100 billion had been misused through systemic corruption and embezzlement going back decades.

The detentions – and the expensive settlements – are being characterized by the state as an attempt to recover those funds.

Many more of those detained remain in the Ritz Carlton under guard, until it reopens for Valentine’s Day in mid-February.

Those who do not reach settlements before then are expected to be sent to prison to await trial.

Meanwhile, one of the highest-profile detainees, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Reuters on January 27 that he expected to be cleared of wrongdoing and “released from custody within days”.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal – who is one of Saudi Arabia’s richest people – said he expected to keep full control of his investment firm.


A fire broke out on the top floor of the world’s most famous hotel, the five-star Ritz in Paris.

The fire is now under control.

About 150 workers had to leave the building on January 19 as the fire took hold. No injuries are reported.

Ritz hotel – which is famously where Princess Diana spent her last evening – is currently closed for renovations and there are no guests staying there.

The operation will take “a long time” as the fire is difficult to access, a fire service spokesman said.

The alert was raised at 07:00 local time and about 60 firefighters and 15 fire engines were sent to the scene.

The fire started on the seventh floor, took hold in the attic and spread to the roof.

Paris police tweeted that there was a “major fire”, and advised motorists to avoid the Place Vendome area.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

The area was blocked off at the height of the morning rush hour, while firefighters on cranes sprayed the flames.

Fire captain Yvon Bot said the fire was unusually difficult to access and control.

“There is no longer any risk of it spreading, but the operation will still take a very long time,” he said.

“We are having to go meter by meter from the roof. It is too small to access from the interior.”

Yvon Bot said a “large” section of the building was affected.

The Ritz is a historic building in central Paris.

Princess Diana dined there on August 30, 1997. Later that night she and her companion Dodi al-Fayed were killed in a car crash. Dodi al-Fayed was the son of the hotel’s owner, Egyptian billionaire and Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed.

The Ritz was also the hotel of choice for Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway.

The hotel was due to re-open in March after a three-year closure for multi-million euro renovations.

The Ritz name, used for hotels around the world, comes from a Swiss hotelier called Cesar Ritz, who set up the Paris Ritz and the London Ritz more than a century ago. Both hotels are now independently owned.