Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has announced the arrest of 11 princes including prominent billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, following the formation of an anti-corruption committee by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, media reports said on Sunday.
The announcement of the arrests was made on Saturday on Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned satellite network.
Along with the 11 princes, three ministers were removed from their positions: Economy and Planning Minister Adel bin Mohammed Faqih, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and Naval Forces Commander Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, reports CNN.
King Salman ordered the new anti-corruption campaign as part of an "active reform agenda aimed at tackling a persistent problem that has hindered development efforts in the Kingdom in recent decades", a statement from the Saudi Ministry of Communications said.
The royal decree said the committee was needed "due to the propensity of some people for abuse, putting their personal interest above public interest, and stealing public funds" and will "trace and combat corruption at all levels", the statement said.
The committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has the authority to investigate, arrest, issue travel bans and freeze the assets of those it finds corrupt, CNN reported.
The three ousted ministers were replaced, with Prince Khalid bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed bin Ayyaf Al Muqren becoming National Guard minister, Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri becoming the Economy and Planning Minister, and Vice Admiral Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghifaili taking on the role of Naval Forces Commander.
The Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, the de facto royal hotel, was evacuated on Saturday, stirring rumours that it would be used to house detained royals, reports The New York Times.
The airport for private planes was closed, arousing speculation that the crown prince was seeking to block rich businessmen from fleeing before more arrests.