On Sunday Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was arrested as apart of an anti-corruption effort from Saudi Arabia’s future king. The anti-corruption purge resulted in the arrests of royals, ministers and investors including billionaire bin Talal, one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.
Hoyas may recognize the Saudi Prince’s name, as he is the namesake of Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Founded in 1993 by an agreement between the Fondation pour L’Entente entre Chretiens et Musulmans, Geneva and Georgetown University, the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding studies the Islamic world.
Georgetown accepted a $20 million dollar gift from HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, in 2007. This gift is now under scrutiny as the ethical origin of the money is called into question.
The allegations against Prince Alwaleed include money laundering, bribery and extorting officials, one official told Reuters. The corruption sting also included accusations of embezzlement, hiring ghost employees and awarding contracts to the royal family’s own companies including a $10 billion deal for walkie-talkies and bulletproof military gear worth billions of Saudi riyals.
Georgetown is not the only school that has accepted gifts from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Harvard University, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, American University in Cairo, and American University in Beirut all have Islamic studies departments named after bin Talal.
Some are accusing the anti-corruption sting as a power-grabbing play by the future king, arresting rivals to consolidate power. The allegations could not be independently verified and members of the families of those detained could not be reached.
News of the purge came soon after King Salman decreed late on Saturday the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 32-year-old favorite son who has amassed power since rising from obscurity three years ago.
“The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable,” the royal decree said.
The Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding is yet to address the arrest publically.