Sunday, December 3, 2017

Billionaire Saudi Prince Detained 28 Days, Abandoned by Western "Friends"

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal hit four weeks in detention without word of his situation.  The billionaire prince, a frequent CNBC contributor, had few friends speak on his behalf since he was taken on November 4, 2017.  Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is being held at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton.

Fellow billionaires should know it could happen to them.   Like many of them Alwaleed bin Talal signed the giving pledge.  His Giving Pledge page states:

“It is our duty as philanthropists to harness the very best of human nature — generosity, innovation, creativity — to make the biggest possible difference in people's lives.” 
The prince's detention occurred right after Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein suggested Saudi Arabia was safe for billionaire investment.

What value is there in being friends with the West?  We can ask Prince bin Talal if  he ever resurfaces.  Saif Gadhafi recently went public in Libya.  He may have advice for the world about his and his father's experience with the Western billionaire class.

Is it safe?  FT offered:

The Gulf state’s regulator has asked local and foreign banks to disclose if they have credit facilities and safety deposit boxes in the names of those arrested, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Update 12-5-17:  Forbes shared the most substantive information to date on the plight of the billionaire prince. " the settlement offered to Alwaleed bin Talal requested that he hand over a large portion of his assets and agree to lifetime house arrest with no phone and no media interviews. Alwaleed has refused the offer, according to the source, and wants to go to court. The specific allegations against Prince Alwaleed have not been made public."  The story said some of quiet Western friends are worried about him.

Update 12-9-17:  NPR ran a piece on the missing prince and how it is making investors nervous.  It stated "detaining a key international financial player of Alwaleed's stature could harm potential investment in Saudi Arabia, some analysts say."  No word from Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein if Saudi remains an attractive place to invest, a comment he made one week before bin Talal got taken.  Rubenstein has been busy ending a different relationship.  He divorced wife Alice Rogoff.

Update 12-10-17:  Saudi princes are moving money to Europe in the aftermath of the purge.

Update 12-16-17:  The prince's financial holdings fell nearly $3 billion.

Update 12-21-17:   Bloomberg reported a bin Talal settlement could be reached in weeks with proceeds going to fund government initiatives.

Update 12-22-17:  Reports suggest bin Talal can settle with the government for $6 billion and have his freedom back.

Update 1-5-18:  The conspicuous silence remains around bin Talal's detention.  WSJ said the price for his freedom is $6 billion.  His father is said to be on hunger strike on behalf of bin Talal and two detained brothers.

Update 1-14-18:  The prince has been transferred to a high security Al Ha'ir prison.  News report indicates Prince Alwaleed's leverage to demand a trial or negotiate a deal is "dwindling by the day."  Trial by jury used to be important to our federal republic and a key feature of international expectations.  It's clear strong counterpuncher President Donald Trump will not intervene on the Prince's behalf.