Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was once seen as a leading contender for the kingdom's royal throne, was freed on Tuesday after paying a massive settlement.
Charged with at least 201 others for corruption, Prince Miteb was one of the most high profile princes detained in the massive sweep. According to an official source, Prince Miteb paid an "acceptable settlement agreement" of more than $1 billion, Reuters reported.
The Saudi prince, who led the kingdom's powerful national guard until his arrest on Nov. 4., was released along with at least three others. Those names have not been revealed.
“It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption involving known cases,” the anonymous official said of Prince Miteb's case.
The prince was accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and giving contracts to his own firms including a costly deal for walkie-talkies and bulletproof military gear.
Earlier this month, it was reported that authorities in the kingdom are asking the detained princes and businessmen to "pay for their freedom." According to Financial Times, the Saudi government has demanded up to 70 percent of the detained individuals' personal wealth.
"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," Raihan Ismail, an associate lecturer at the Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, told Bloomberg.
Saudi Attorney General Saud Al Mojeb has said that more than $100 billion in Saudi funds may have been misused, leading to the detention of 201 individuals.
"The financial value of these decades-long practices and misappropriated and unused public funds may exceed $100 billion, according to preliminary investigations," Al Mojeb said, according to Gulf News.
Among those detained are prominent business and financial leaders, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is often referred to as "the richest Arab." The billionaire's detention has led to concern from western business leaders about the ripple effects on his varied business interests.
However, dismissing concerns about potential financial and economic risks, the crown prince told The New York Times that experts are making sure things will run smoothly.
"We have experts making sure no businesses are bankrupted in the process," Prince Mohammed said.
“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."