Saudi Arabian heir tightens his grip on power

Saudi Arabian heir tightens his grip on power

Saudi Arabian heir tightens his grip on power

Among those taken into custody overnight Saturday were billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men with extensive holdings in Western companies, as well as two of the late King Abdullah's sons.

Saudi Arabia has announced the arrest of 11 princes including prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, following the formation of an anti-corruption committee by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, media reports said on Sunday.

Analysts suggested the corruption probe, which targeted key members of the royal family, was a show of force by the crown prince, aimed at removing any potential opposition as he pushes an ambitious and controversial reform agenda.

The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya says the crash killed Prince Mansour bin Murquin and seven others.

Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of the king and owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding, invests in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter.

Also purged were the navy chief and the economy minister.

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Some of the 11 princes and 38 former government ministers, deputies and businessmen arrested in Saudi Arabia are reportedly being held at the hotel. It also sends a message that the crown prince has the full backing of his father, King Salman, to carry out sweeping anti-corruption reforms targeting senior royals and their business associates, who have always been seen as operating above the law.

The 32-year-old crown prince has been seeking to attract greater global investments and improve the country's reputation as a place to do business. Phone lines to the hotel have been cut off since Sunday morning.

Prince Alwaleed's investments, current and future, may now be in doubt after he was detained in an investigation by a new Saudi anti-corruption body.

News broke early Sunday local time that Alwaleed, who is head of Saudi Arabia's National Guard, had been picked up by law enforcement agents in his Saudi desert camp.

The committee's goal was to "preserve public money, punish corrupt people and those who exploit their positions", according to the royal decree.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's top council of clerics issued a statement saying it is an Islamic duty to fight corruption - essentially giving religious backing to the high-level arrests being reported.

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