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By Sami Aboudi
DUBAI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Senior Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender to the throne, was freed after reaching an “acceptable settlement agreement” with authorities paying more than $1 billion, a Saudi official said on Wednesday.
Miteb, who was head of the elite National Guard, was among dozens of royal family members, ministers and current and former senior officials who were rounded up in a graft inquiry at least partly aimed at strengthening the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
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 it is believed to be more than one billion US dollar equivalent,” the official told Reuters.
“It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption involving known cases,” the official said.
Officials from Miteb’s office could not immediately be reached for a comment.
Royal family members and acquaintances of Miteb had earlier posted messages on social media suggesting that the prince was at his home in Riyadh, but did not say how his release had come about.
Saudi authorities announced on November 4 the arrest of at least 11 royal family members, as well as four ministers and dozens of former officials and businessmen in what the government said was a crackdown on corruption.
Billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an international investor, was among those detained.
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.
In an interview with the New York Times published last week, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was quoted as saying that the vast majority of about 200 businessmen and officials implicated in the crackdown were agreeing to settlements under which they would hand assets over to the government.
Apart from Miteb, the Saudi official said that at least three other people allegedly involved in corruption cases have also finalized settlement agreements. He said the Public Prosecutor had also decided to release a number of individuals and to prosecute at least 5 individuals. The official gave no details on their identities.
As the Sandhurst-trained preferred son of the late King Abdullah, Miteb was once thought to be a leading contender to the throne.
Before he was sacked by a royal decree on Nov. 4, he headed the Saudi National Guard, an elite internal security force originally based on traditional tribal units that was run by his father for five decades.
He was also the last remaining member of Abdullah’s Shammar branch of the family to retain a key position at the top of the Saudi power structure, after brothers Mishaal and Turki were relieved of their posts as governors in 2015. (Reporting by Samia Nakhoul Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Toni Reinhold)