Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's personal fortune and business empire have lost billions since he was detained in Riyadh last month as part of large scale anti-corruption sweep.

Kingdom Holding Company, the Saudi prince's investment firm, has fallen in value to $8.5 billion, losing nearly a fifth of its former worth, according to Financial Times. The billionaire's personal wealth has also plunged by some $2 billion, according to Forbes.

But the company's chief executive insists everything is fine.

Talal Al Maiman said that Kingdom Holding maintains more than $12.5bn under management globally and “enjoys a solid financial position underpinned by a prudent and conservative funding plan," according to RT.

The company has also said that Prince Alwaleed was already transitioning to a less hands-on role at the time of his detention. 

"Kingdom Holding's experienced and seasoned team of senior executives . . . are focused on their unwavering responsibilities to KHC’s shareholders," Al Maiman said.

Unidentified Saudi bankers told Financial Times a different story.

Even some that have worked closely with Prince Alwaleed for years are completely unaware of his company's current situation and his fate. They've said that, in the prince's absence, major activity has been suspended at the firm.

Following the billionaire's detention, it was reported last month that he had sold his $1.5 billion stake in 21st Century Fox, the entertainment company controlled by Rupert Murdoch. Lebanese media also reported that the prince was selling the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel and Movenpick Hotel in Beirut.

Hundreds were detained in the anti-corruption sweep

Prince Alwaleed was detained by Saudi authorities in November along with more than 300 others, which included various members of the royal family, businessmen and former and current government officials. The anti-corruption probe has been led by the kingdom's attorney general Saud al-Mojeb, at the behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"Most detainees faced with corruption allegations by the committee agreed to a settlement. The necessary arrangements are being finalized to conclude such agreements," al-Mojeb said earlier this month.

The attorney general explained that the number of those targeted in the probe had reached 320 people, with 159 currently still in detention. The accounts of 376 individuals – belonging to the detained or others linked to corruption allegations – remain frozen.

Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Source: Kremlin

Saudi Arabia has suffered from corruption

“No detainee will be pressured in any shape or form,” al-Mojeb confirmed, according to Arab News. "Each detainee has the right to refuse to settle at any time before the settlement agreement is signed."

While some have raised concerns about negative financial ripple effects, as so many prominent wealthy investors and business leader remain detained, Crown Prince Mohammed has dismissed such worries.

"We have experts making sure no businesses are bankrupted in the process," Prince Mohammed told The New York Times.

“Our country has suffered a lot from corruption from the 1980s until today. The calculation of our experts is that roughly 10 percent of all government spending was siphoned off by corruption each year, from the top levels to the bottom," the prince explained.

"You have to send a signal, and the signal going forward now is, ‘You will not escape.’ And we are already seeing the impact."

The crown prince has also said that calling the anti-corruption probe a cover for power consolidation is "ludicrous," pointing out that many of those targeted – including Prince Alwaleed – had already pledged their support to him.