Forbes keeps Saudis off billionaires' list after corruption purge
Reuters Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Mar 08, 2018, 12.53 PM(IST)
File Photo: Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal sits for an interview with Reuters in the office of the suite where he has been detained at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Forbes magazine said on Thursday it was excluding all Saudi Arabian tycoons from its annual list of the world's richest people after dozens of top businessmen from the oil-rich kingdom were detained in a crackdown on corruption last year.
Most detainees were released after reaching settlements with the authorities, who say they arranged to seize more than $100 billion in assets through such deals. But the government has provided few details about who was netted in the sweep, what they were accused of and how much they gave up.
Forbes said earlier in the week that it was "impossible to know definitively who gave how much to whom when".
The magazine said it had removed the 10 Saudi billionaires who made the cut last year, including detained in the crackdown like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, with wealth previously valued at $18.7 billion, and Mohammed al-Amoudi whose treasure stood at $8.1 billion.
"With greater clarity regarding their wealth, some might eventually return to the ranking," Forbes said.
The magazine's Middle East edition said in a separate statement on Thursday that the wealth of Saudi billionaires was believed to have increased from $42.1 billion last year due to the rise in oil prices and capital markets globally, but would be excluded due to the reported asset seizures.
Alwaleed, who told Reuters in an interview hours before his release in January that he did not expect to give up any assets to the government, sued Forbes in 2013 alleging the magazine had undervalued his wealth.
The magazine listed 2,208 billionaires worldwide in 2018, up from 2,043 in 2017.