Detained Saudi Prince Buys His Freedom For $1 Billion

One day you were the billionaire head of the National Guard in one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. Although that carries some risk, you were probably reassured by your position as a senior prince in the ruling family, never mind your strong ties to the US military... oh and of course the many zeros in your bank account. The next day, in a turn of events akin to Shakespearian drama, you were imprisoned (kind of) with ten of your fellow princes and a bunch of ministers and former ministers in a 5 star hotel on charges of money laundering, bribery and general corruption.

Despite being a cousin of the Kingdom’s uber-autocratic crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was a son of former King Abdullah and got caught up in a clan war in the ruling family. Former Riyadh governor and another of King Abdullah’s sons, Turki bin Abdullah, was also arrested in the crackdown.

Miteb was accused of conducting normal business practices in Saudi Arabia, such as embezzlement, hiring “ghost” employees and awarding his own companies a $10 billion contract for walkie-talkies and bullet proof protection. However, after what must have been the worst three and a half weeks of his life in the Ritz Carlton “prison”, Miteb has purchased his freedom for a cool $1 billion.

According to Bloomberg, "Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, one of the most senior Saudi royals detained in the kingdom’s corruption crackdown, has been released after reaching a settlement deal believed to exceed the equivalent of $1 billion, an official involved in the anti-graft campaign said."

Prince Miteb, who headed the powerful National Guard until earlier this month, was released Tuesday, the official said on condition of anonymity in discussing matters under the supervision of the public prosecutor. At least three other suspects have also finalized settlement deals, the official said. It wasn’t immediately possible to reach Prince Miteb, son of the late King Abdullah, for comment.

The unnamed official told Bloomberg that the public prosecutor will proceed with prosecutions of at least five others. However, Bloomberg notes that the leadership is keen to resolve the corruption issue quickly, a.k.a. extract as much money as possible for the Kingdom’s ailing economy and remove the unwanted media focus from the key western ally dysfunctional country and its royal family.

Prince Miteb’s release, less than a month since his arrest, shows the speed at which Saudi Arabia wants to settle the corruption probe that involved the sudden arrests of royals and billionaires such as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The crackdown has shaken the kingdom and reverberated across the world as analysts, bankers and diplomats assess its impact on power in the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s predominant leader known as MBS, said the majority of those being detained had agreed to pay back some of the money they had gained illegally in exchange for their freedom. The prince said authorities could recover as much as $100 billion in settlements.

Some suspects started making payments to settle cases in exchange for freedom, people with knowledge of the matter said last week. Businessmen and officials signed agreements with authorities to transfer a portion of their assets to avoid trial and have started to transfer funds from personal accounts to government-controlled accounts, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

While researching the story, Bloomberg found an academic with finely honed skills in stating the obvious with regard to Saudi Arabia’s version of a “night of the long knives.”

“Most princes arrested will certainly try to buy their way out, and we will see more of them doing just that to avoid jail time," said Raihan Ismail, an associate lecturer at the Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra. “This process lacks accountability and integrity. I doubt that detailed charges will ever be released, especially if settlements are reached.”

Speaking to Bloomberg, Alef Advisory, a political risk advisory firm, paints the “corruption crackdown” by MBS in glowing terms, expecting it to earn political capital with the Saudi population.

The opacity of the system doesn’t take away “from the political capital that MBS probably earned from this from the Saudi public” by declaring war on corruption, Hani Sabra, founder of New York-based Alef Advisory wrote in a report. “We continue to believe that MBS’s risky domestic gambits are likely to succeed.”

We doubt that the long-suffering Saudi population will view it as anything more than MBS tightening his grip on power, in an effort to stop the nation splitting apart due to growing economic and political fissures. According to Bloomberg, however, our cynicism is unjustified…MBS says so.

King Salman fired Prince Miteb shortly before midnight Nov. 4 and announced the formation of an anti-corruption commission headed by the crown prince. Prince Miteb’s arrest fueled speculation that the crackdown was more about tightening the crown prince’s grip on power, a claim he dismissed as “ludicrous” in an interview with the New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman this month.

In “Groveling In Excrement’: Thomas Friedman Mercilessly Mocked For Bizarre Saudi Puff Piece”, we noted that Friedman’s “fawning hagiography” of MBS has received the derision is deserved.

…most astute observers of developments in the Saudi kingdom of horrors hardly need convincing that Saudi's rulers are among the most backwards and repressive on earth, which makes Thomas Friedman's interview and column on MbS all the more absurd and laughable.

It’s not clear yet what the terms of Miteb’s release are, and whether he will be again detained, this time under house arrest at yet another luxury "prison." However, by showing uncharacteristic leniency in not putting senior rivals to the sword (or at least imprisoning them indefinitely), we wonder whether MBS has ended the clan fight within the ruling family, or whether it's on hold.


NickyGall Wed, 11/29/2017 - 06:35 Permalink

Here is an interesting look at Saudi Arabia's military capabilities:                                … 
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It is interesting to see how much of a role that the United States plays a significant role in the Saudi military buildup.

Ghordius new game Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:28 Permalink

... and the chance of getting in prison or getting kidnapped because of their wealth, yesinversely, in the "Great Game of Monopoly"...... one billion seems to be the current price for a "Get Out Of Prison" card (at least a Saudi VIP politica prison, which is actually The Ritz Hotel, poor sods)this while Hollywood seems to be on the meme that one billion in the US gives you the right to kill one - but only one - scot free

In reply to by new game

Panic Mode Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:05 Permalink

You know when they run out of that $1 billion, they will come back and knock on the door. That's what the gov does when they have so much power - legalised mafia practice.

fattail Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:08 Permalink

This seems like more than a consolidation of power.  The ability to bribe your way out of a corruption probe smells of desperation.  The article last week said they were going to net about $800 billion.  $800 billion would keep you afloat if the price of oil went to shit for a while.  Are they worried about the price of oil falling and never recovering?  Could AI and technology make the discovery and recovery of oil to cheap?  Could a small marginal increase in electric vehicles reduce marginal demand enough to keep  steadily increasing pressure on the price of oil indefinitely.   

Stu Elsample Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:15 Permalink

He went from riding camels to riding limos, and back to camels.That reminds me of a bad joke....two guys walking through a desert. One complains about his badly sunburned lips...he sees a pile a camel poop and rubs some of it on his lips. The other gay asks "why the hell did you put camel poop on your lips?...that won't heal them". The other guy replies "Maybe not, but I won't lick them any more"

overmedicatedu… Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:19 Permalink

911 pay back by Trump..the war dance in SA was not just symbolic, the royal  treatment of Trump in SA was a message sent across the mideast..obuma was spit on in SA as the nigger beggar he was.

Everybodys All… Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:31 Permalink

I wonder if there are any connections to Las Vegasshootings that this purge has in Saudi Arabia. I don't think its any coincidence this purge in the Kingdom happened after the Vegas shootings. As a reminder part of the Saudi airforce for some reason was in Las Vegas that week as well. Will we ever know?

oncemore Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:43 Permalink

Why is Tyler Durden that disrespectful with MBS?Mr. Durden shoulmd have a look at asset forfeiture, which happens every day in US.Police can pull you from highway and take your money , without a judge.Is it not the same, what MBS does?I call it hypocrisy.

Last of the Mi… Wed, 11/29/2017 - 07:59 Permalink

This isn't about the broken economy of SA. It's about a consolidation of power within the coming regime. It's about kissing the ring of the one will have all the power. It just costs a billion dollars to enter the room. Exact same thing goes on in our congress every day but the dynamics are just a bit different. Our congressmen rush to kiss the ring of Soros for a small pile of donation money. Certainly not a billion dollars. You see, it's cheap to use your NGO's to bypass the government to get what you want through the MSM if someone doesn't cooperate. It's the reason we have 24/7 propaganda and politicization of every fucking thing you see. 

Racer Wed, 11/29/2017 - 08:04 Permalink

Sounds just like the feather wrist slap fines on the bwanksters when they were caught manipulating stawks, fx and anything else they had their grubby hands on - a tiny token and microscopic cost of doing business.Too big to jail but the rest of us they throw away the key

LightBulb18 Wed, 11/29/2017 - 13:16 Permalink

I wonder what there is to stop these saudis from leaving saudi arabia with their fortunes, and suing either the kingdom or the king for damages and theft of property in the various semi legal organizations in the world with their abilities to punish nations. In G-d I trust.