Saudi helicopter crash reportedly kills high-ranking prince

Saudi helicopter crash reportedly kills high-ranking prince

Saudi authorities arrested at least 11 princes, several current ministers and dozens of former ministers in a sweeping move reportedly created to consolidate power for the son of King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. While numerous suspects were not named, Reuters reports, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah was ousted as minister of the National Guard and replaced by a lower-level prince who held a position with the guard, Khalid bin Ayyaf al-Muqrin.

Billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is among those detained, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Bloomberg quoted a senior Saudi official as saying that 11 princes and 38 current or former senior officials were arrested.

The 32-year-old crown prince has been seeking to attract greater global investments and improve the country's reputation as a place to do business.

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With the two princes now sidelined, control of the kingdom's security apparatuses is now largely centralised under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defence minister.

Other people detained in the probe include former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, a board member of national oil giant Saudi Aramco; economy minister Adel Fakieh, who once played a major role in drafting reforms; former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah; and Khalid al-Tuwaijiri, who headed the Royal Court under the late King Abdullah. Phone lines to the hotel have been cut off since Sunday morning. He has expressed support to the king and halted plans to invest in Iran in 2016, when Riyadh cut all ties with Tehran.

Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday that it established a "supreme committee" to investigate public corruption.

The government said the anti-corruption committee has the right to issue arrest warrants, impose travel restrictions and freeze bank accounts.

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Saudi officials described Saturday's arrests as the result of an investigation by a newly created anti-corruption committee.

The arrests follow the king's dismissal of top ministers and a crackdown on dissidents.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who has extensive holdings in Western companies, was among those arrested, state news agencies reported.

He said the Saudi Arabian leadership is "keen to protect public money and eradicate corruption, which hampers the economy and society", adding the decree was a "clear message" that no one can escape justice if they are proven to be involved in corruption.

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