Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers and business figures in anti-corruption crackdown

The 32-year-old crown prince often known as MBS has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom

The 32-year-old crown prince often known as MBS has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom

Saudi Arabian investment firm Kingdom Holding said on Sunday it had the support of the country's government after billionaire chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was detained overnight.

Other people detained in the probe include former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, a board member of national oil giant Saudi Aramco; economy minister Adel Fakieh, who once played a major role in drafting reforms; former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah; and Khalid al-Tuwaijiri, who headed the Royal Court under the late King Abdullah.

The prince was the son of Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud - who was the crown prince of Saudi Arabia from January to April in 2015.

Earlier, Kingdom Holding reported it swung to a third quarter profit after restating the same year ago period to a loss. His ouster as head of the National Guard essentially sidelines one of the most formidable rivals to the current crown prince, who has amassed enormous power in less than three years since his father, King Salman, ascended to the throne.

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Shortly before the arrests, King Salman had ousted Prince Miteb bin Abdullah from his post as head of the National Guard in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves through the oil-rich Gulf country.

Some of the 11 princes and 38 former government ministers, deputies and businessmen arrested in Saudi Arabia are reportedly being held at the hotel. One of the world's richest men, Alwaleed has significant equity holdings in several USA technology companies, as well as stakes in Saudi companies across the real estate, retail and petrochemical industries.

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.

Shares in Kingdom Holding plunged 9.9 per cent on Sunday morning.

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"People will be looking at any kind of worldwide holdings of the people who have been arrested, to see what will be the impact".

The arrests follow the king's dismissal of top ministers and a crackdown on dissidents.

Saudi Arabia's minister of culture and information Awad bin Saleh also praised the royal decree establishing the new anti-corruption commission, the Saudi Press Agency said. The new body was given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and seize assets.

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