Ransomed: Prince Miteb pays to go.

Position:Miteb bin Abdullah

Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, former head of the elite National Guard

Senior Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was once seen as a serious contender to the kingdom's throne, was freed after reaching an "acceptable settlement agreement" with authorities, paying more than $1bn, a Saudi official has confirmed.

Reuters News Agency revealed that Miteb, 65, son of the late King Abdullah and former head of the elite National Guard, was among dozens of royal family members, ministers and senior officials who were rounded up in a graft inquiry partly aimed at strengthening the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Those being held to ransom will all be required to make substantial payments to the government in order to secure their freedom, local sources have confirmed.

The official, who is involved in the anti-corruption campaign, said Miteb was released on Tuesday after reaching "an acceptable settlement agreement". The amount of the settlement was not disclosed but the official said it is believed to be the equivalent of more than $1bn.

"It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption involving known cases," the official said. According to a Saudi official, Prince Miteb was accused of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to his own firms including a $10bn deal for walkie talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals.

The swoop included princes, serving and former ministers and tycoons including the global powerhouse and international businessman, Prince Alwaleeed bin Talal. Yet many believe the primary target was Prince Miteb, who represented the last great power centre left standing after the toppling of former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

The allegations against the others included kickbacks, inflating government contracts, extortion and bribery. However, the claims could not be independently verified.

Saudi authorities had been working on striking agreements with some of those in detention, asking them to hand over assets and cash in return for their freedom.

News of the purge emerged on November 4 soon after King Salman decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 32-year-old son who has amassed power since his meteoric rise three years ago.

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

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