Saudi princes accused of bribery, embezzlement, money laundering: Official

(From left) Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Former Riyadh Governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and Former Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP, EPA-EFE

RIYADH (REUTERS) - Bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of power are among the accusations levelled against dozens of Saudi princes, officials and businessmen detained in an anti-corruption probe, a Saudi official told Reuters on Monday.

Eleven princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers were detained late on Saturday after King Salman decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 32-year-old son who has amassed expansive powers over the past two years.

The new body was given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and seize assets.

The official said billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the king and owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding , faces allegations of money laundering, bribery and extorting officials.

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was removed as head of the powerful National Guard, is accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to his own companies, including a $10 billion deal for walkie-talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals.

Former Riyadh Governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah is accused of corruption in the Riyadh Metro project and of taking advantage of his influence to award contracts to his own companies, the official said.

Former Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, a board member of national oil giant Saudi Aramco, is accused of embezzlement related to the expansion of Mecca's Grand Mosque and taking advantage of his position and inside information to benefit from land deals, the official added.

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