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Saudi Royals Are Selling Homes, Yachts And Art As Crown Prince Cuts Income

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 26th April 2022 10:07
An interesting article about the actions of Crown Prince Bin Salman. Are his actions making him look like he is doing his best to teach the rich a lesson and bring them back to reality? Is he telling the rich to be honest and keep the mony in Saudi and use the money in Saudi. Is there more to the Crown Prince than what is shown? Is he genuine or a crook and just wants all the power and money for himself?

Interesting!

Saudi Royals Are Selling Homes, Yachts And Art As Crown Prince Cuts Income

The transactions represent a sea change in fortune for the top princes who funneled windfall profits from oil booms in the 1970s and 1980s into some of the world’s most exclusive markets. The large sums of money were largely spent on hard-to-sell assets or depleted with expenses reaching $30 million a month for some royals with large staffs and lavish lifestyles, leaving them vulnerable. to recent changes in government policy.

Now some members of the royal family are selling assets abroad to generate cash after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 36-year-old de facto ruler of the kingdom, dried up many of the sources of money they had used to support their extraordinary spending habits, he said. people close to the princes who make the sales.

The princes need cash to pay routine bills including property maintenance, taxes, staff salaries and parking fees for their planes and ships, the people said. In some cases, the people said, they are also motivated by a desire to own less ostentatious assets to avoid drawing the attention of Prince Mohammed, who has restricted his privileges and access to state funds in the Al Saud family since his father took over. the throne. in 2015. The Saudi government is aware of the sales.

“These people do not work, they have a lot of staff and they are afraid of [Prince Mohammed]said a person familiar with the transactions. The princes, the person added, want “cash in their back pocket and no visible wealth.”

Among the assets recently sold are a $155 million British estate, two yachts over 200 feet long, and Mughal jewelry given as wedding gifts by a late king. The sellers, including former ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan, were once among the most powerful people in Saudi Arabia.

“Clearly they have been reduced to a defined and disciplined regime and they have to live off that,” said British historian Robert Lacey, who has chronicled the Saudi ruling family since the 1980s. Prince Mohammed is “here for a long time.” term and is reshaping things for the long term.

A representative for Prince Bandar said he sold all his overseas assets “because he saw greater profits from investing in the kingdom with the incredible work the crown prince is doing and creating all the investment opportunities.”

Prince Mohammed has sidelined relatives seen as potential rivals, including an uncle and older cousin arrested in 2020, and cut benefits for thousands of royals, including paid holidays abroad or electricity bills. and water in their Saudi palaces. Such benefits had amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in annual costs to the Saudi government.

Top royals amassed billions of dollars a year through oil and real estate sales, as well as business deals involving the government, from which Prince Mohammed has gradually pushed them away. The government is squeezing members of the royal family in other ways, launching a $2,500 tax on every domestic worker beyond the fourth employee this year, costing some royals hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

US diplomatic cables from the 1990s released by WikiLeaks show that some royals used to build wealth by taking loans from local banks without paying them back, expropriating land from commoners, or exploiting the foreign worker visa system for profit. People familiar with royal finances say the princes continued to benefit from such schemes until Prince Mohammed came to power. A system of stipends for thousands of Saudi princes, which US cables say cost the government billions of dollars a year, remains intact according to one of those people.

Many princes have adjusted their lifestyle due to changes in the global economy and changes within Saudi Arabia that have “turned off the taps,” according to this person.

“They had a standard of living that exceeded any expectations,” said another person familiar with the transactions. “The expense is out of this world. It takes time for them to adjust.”

The Saudi Media Ministry did not respond to questions about the finances of members of the royal family.

Some of the Saudis currently liquidating assets were temporarily detained at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in 2017 in what critics called extortion and a power play by the crown prince, who described it as an anti-corruption move. Many were released only in exchange for financial settlements. Arrests of prominent figures have continued, according to the anti-corruption commission.

The Ritz detainees included the late Prince Turki bin Nasser. The former air force commander was one of several Saudi officials investigated by the British Ministry of Defense on suspicion of receiving sweeteners from BAE Systems PLC in exchange for lucrative contracts to supply fighter jets and other military equipment to the kingdom, in what became known. like Al. Yamamah Arms Deal in the 1980s.

Most Saudi royals no longer have access to such deals under Prince Mohammed. Representatives for Prince Turki’s estate could not be reached and a surviving brother did not respond to questions about the British investigation, which the prince never publicly addressed.

Prince Turki sold his 203-foot yacht in 2020 and a $28.5 million home in Los Angeles’ exclusive Beverley Park community in 2021, according to people familiar with the transactions. He died before the sale of the house was completed; his family could not be reached for comment. The terms of his agreement could not be learned after his arrest at the Ritz. His net worth was previously estimated at more than $3 billion, according to a Saudi official.

Others selling their assets were never caught. For example, in 2021, Prince Bandar sold a $155 million estate in the Cotswolds, west of London, according to people close to him and familiar with the transaction. He was once close to the center of Saudi power, and two of his sons now hold prominent positions as ambassadors in Washington and London. In 2007, the British government ended its investigation into allegations that he had enriched himself from the Al Yamamah deal without making any findings. Prince Bandar has adamantly denied that the sums involved represented secret commissions for him.

Prince Bandar is the son of the late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, one of the main branches of the royal family whose sources of income have dried up under Prince Mohammed. Prince Turki was the son-in-law of Prince Sultan.

Prince Sultan’s riches were due in large part to his access to government funds, personnel and resources during nearly half a century as defense minister, people familiar with his estate say. Bank statements reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show that in just one year, he transferred tens of millions of dollars from government accounts at Saudi American Bank directly to proxy accounts in Switzerland to help finance his lifestyle. “That has 100% stopped,” said a person familiar with the activities.

Feeling pressured by Prince Mohammed’s moves, Prince Sultan’s heirs unloaded a mansion in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood that sold for a record $290 million in 2020, according to people close to the royals familiar with the transaction.

One of Prince Sultan’s sons, Prince Khalid bin Sultan, who commanded troops alongside General Norman Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War in 1991, sold a Paris mansion next to the Eiffel Tower for more than $87 million in 2020 and a 220-foot superyacht in 2019, according to people close to him and familiar with the transactions.

Some of the Prince Sultan’s sons are also trying to mortgage their global assets to raise money to make up for shortfalls in traditional sources of income, people familiar with those efforts said. One of them, Prince Fahd bin Sultan, was sued by Credit Suisse in November for allegedly failing to repay loans he took out to refinance a $55 million superyacht and a $48 million property south of London, court documents show. .

Princes Khalid and Fahd, contacted through a representative, declined to comment.

Gary Hersham, founder of luxury property specialists Beauchamp Estates, which was involved in several of the Sultan family’s transactions, said that, in general, the younger generation of Saudi royals no longer need or use large properties that their predecessors bought. They are big spenders and would rather have cash, he said.

“They want less glitz, that’s the trend,” he said, pointing to some smaller home purchases recently.
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