Why detention of billionaire Saudi prince worries the Élysée


The ultra-wealthy Saudi prince Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, the owner of the George-V hotel in Paris, remains in detention in Riyad, one of a number of prominent people in the regime who faces claims of corruption. Prince Al-Waleed is an important figure in France and not just because he owns a prestigious hotel here. The billionaire is a key player in a partnership between the French public sector financial institution the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) and a Saudi investment fund. One of his advisers was also a supporter of President Emmanuel Macron's En Marche! party. As Karl Laske reports, this helps explain why the Élysée is keeping a close eye on what happens to the Saudi prince.

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On November 4th, 2017, the gates of the Ritz-Carlton in the Saudi capital Riyadh closed as Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal's car swept past. Since then this immensely wealthy businessman, the owner of the George-V hotel in Paris and classified by Forbes as the 45th richest person in the world, has been detained in the five-star establishment, facing claims of corruption. Close to 300 people, including eleven princes, 38 ministers or deputy ministers, businessmen and civil servants fell into the same trap. “They received an invitation to meet the Crown Prince or the King, and once they arrived at the meeting place their chauffeurs were told to leave, and they were accompanied to the Ritz-Carlton,” recalls a businessman familiar with events.