Saudi authorities have arrested billionaire businessman Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, the main foreign investor in Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam.
Al-Amoudi is thought to be worth $10.9 billion and was the first to donate to the Renaissance Damcampaign launched by the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and to give the Ethiopian government $88 million to build it.
He is thought to be the richest man in Ethiopia and the second richest in Saudi, after Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal who was also arrested on Saturday.
Al-Amoudi owns a wide range of companies in the fields of construction, energy, agriculture, mining, hotels, healthcare and manufacturing.
He was arrested as part of a crackdown in Saudi Arabia, which has consolidated Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s power while alarming much of the traditional business establishment.
A no-fly list was drawn up, as a result of the arrests, and security forces in some Saudi airports were barring owners of private jets from taking off without a permit, pan-Arab daily Al-Asharq Al-Awsat said. Among those detained are 11 princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers, according to Saudi officials. It is thought that in total 500 people have been detained as a result of Saudi’s “anti-corruption” drive
The allegations against the men include money laundering, bribery, extortion and taking advantage of public office for personal gain, a Saudi official told Reuters.
A royal decree on Saturday said the crackdown was launched in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly accrue money”.
The new anti-corruption committee has the power to seize assets at home and abroad before the results of its investigations are known.