Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal reveals secret deal

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal reveals secret deal

RIYADH - Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the chairman of Kingdom Holding who spent nearly three months in detention in the kingdom’s anti-corruption campaign, told Bloomberg TV he had reached an agreement with the government for his release.

The prince declined to disclose the details of his “confirmed understanding” with authorities in the interview, which aired on Tuesday, but said it was easy to verify that he still held a 95% stake in his global investment firm.

“When I say it is a confidential and secret agreement, an arrangement that is based on a confirmed understanding between me and government of Saudi Arabia, I have to respect that,” he said. The process with the government was ongoing, he said.

The prince also said he was in talks with the country’s emerging sovereign wealth fund about co-investments in domestic projects, and that Kingdom Holding was looking at splitting its $13 billion of assets by spinning off some holdings.

Prince Alwaleed, Saudi Arabia’s most recognised business figure, was freed on Jan. 27 after being held at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton, along with scores of royals, senior officials and businessmen, on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Most detainees were released after reaching financial settlements that netted just over $100 billion for the state, the attorney general has said, without providing details.

In an interview at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton conducted hours before his release, Prince Alwaleed told Reuters he maintained his innocence and expected to keep full control of his firm.

A senior Saudi official would not confirm that claim but said any settlements included an admission of guilt.

In the absence of more information, speculation has run rampant about whether Prince Alwaleed secured his freedom by forfeiting part of his fortune - estimated by Forbes magazine at $17 billion - or stood up to authorities and won.

Prince Alwaleed told Bloomberg he would continue to invest in Saudi Arabia and that he held no ill will towards his uncle King Salman and his cousin Prince Mohammed.

“It’s business as usual,” he said.