Billionaire investor and bitcoin basher Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been arrested for financial crimes including money laundering, bribery, and extortion.
As Reuters reports, Prince Alwaleed, a member of the extended Saudi Arabian royal family, was detained over the weekend at the order of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the chair of an anti-corruption committee established by his father, the king. The crackdown rounded up dozens of other officials, including another 10 princes as well as four ministers.
The Saudi government explained that the arrests were the result of “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.” However, many analysts theorized that the move had a political motive, namely to help Salman secure his status as the crown prince following the June palace coup that raised him to this position.
Alwaleed — nicknamed the “Arabian Warren Buffet” — is a billionaire investor and businessmen. He owns a majority stake Kingdom Holding Company, a Forbes Global 2000 company that has a market cap of $33.6 billion and holds large positions in Citigroup, 21st Century Fox, and Twitter. The anti-corruption commission has the authority to seize his assets, although it claims that it has not yet done so.
The prince’s arrest for money laundering and other financial crimes is ironic, considering his recent criticisms of bitcoin. Last month, Prince Alwaleed stated that he agreed with JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who famously called bitcoin a “fraud” that is “worth nothing”. Decrying the lack of regulation governing cryptocurrency, he argued that bitcoin is “Enron in the making” and will inevitably implode.
Perhaps this “hard time” will cause him to reassess his position on uncensorable assets like bitcoin — or not, because he and the other detained princes are reportedly being held at the Ritz Carlton and other five star hotels in Riyadh.