PRICE FOR FREEDOM

Report: Saudi Authorities Demand $6 Billion From Detained Billionaire Prince

Saudi authorities have demanded at least $6 billion from Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal to free him from detention, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. Prince al-Waleed, one of dozens of royals and government officials rounded up last month in a purported corruption crackdown, is reportedly fighting the government’s demand in a bid to save his financial empire. He also fears handing over the money would be seen as an admission of guilt, according to the report. With a net worth estimated at $18.7 billion and large stakes in several Western businesses, including Twitter, the prince is reportedly negotiating to surrender a large piece of his conglomerate, Kingdom Holding Co., in lieu of the money. The Saudi government accuses Prince al-Waleed of money laundering, bribery, and extortion, though few details have been released on the charges. His arrest came as part of a major shakeup of Saudi society by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi officials have said they expect to receive tens of billions of dollars from settlements reached with those arrested.