The American Wall Street Journal, citing informed sources, said Saudi princes have sold assets worth more than $ 600 million worth of real estate, yachts and works of art in the United States and Europe since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, tightened financial restrictions on the ruling family, get rich.
The newspaper reported, citing relatives of the princes who made the sale, that some family members were selling wealth abroad to make money for them after the crown prince drained many of the sources of money they used to maintain “customs of extraordinary expenses “.
Among the assets sold recently are a fortune of $ 155 million in England, two yachts more than 60 meters long and mogul jewelry as a wedding gift from a late king.
Some of them, the report said, were among the group that was stopped at the Ritz Hotel in Riyadh in 2017, in a move the Crown Prince described as necessary to fight corruption.
The list of “sellers” of assets abroad includes the names of “strongest” figures who were influential in the Saudi government, among them the former ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the son of the late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, who was the Minister of Defense, whose name is also mentioned in the report.
The Wall Street Journal said the Saudi government was aware of the sale.
The Saudi Ministry of Information refused to answer the newspaper’s questions “about the financial affairs of members of the royal family”.
The paper noted that some of those targeted had large numbers of employees and lived luxurious lifestyles and spent up to $ 30 million a month, leaving them vulnerable to recent changes in government policy after the advent of Muhammad bin Silman. the government reduced privileges for thousands of family members, owners, saving hundreds of millions of dollars for the government.
Older members of the royal family earned billions of dollars each year through oil sales and real estate, in addition to business deals in which the government was involved, but the crown prince gradually discontinued them.
Many princes have adapted their lifestyles because of these changes that “turn off the taps” according to an informed person and changes in the global economy.
What drives them now to sell their assets abroad is the need for money to pay for routine bills such as maintaining their property, paying taxes and staff salaries, and paying parking fees for their planes and boats .
In addition, they now want assets that look less luxurious so as not to attract the attention of Mohammed bin Salman, who has limited their privileges and access to state funds since his father, King Salman, took the throne.
“These people do not work, they have a large staff and are afraid of (Prince Mohammed),” said a person familiar with the transactions. “They want money in their back pockets, not visible wealth.”
Bandar bin Sultan “sold a house”
Among the names taken is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who according to the newspaper sold a $ 155 million country house in the Cotswolds, west London, in 2021, according to people close to him and familiar with the deal.
A spokesman said he sold all his assets abroad “because he saw the greatest benefits of investing in the kingdom through the Crown Prince’s amazing work and creating all the investment opportunities”.
A “great fortune” for the late Minister of Defense
The report says that his father, the late Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, was also one of the main branches of the royal family that cut off its sources of income during the reign of Prince Muhammad, as his fortune had accumulated over half a century during him. works as Minister of Defense.
Bank records, 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 save money for his luxurious life.
“This is a 100 percent discount,” said one person familiar with the activities.
Due to the new restrictions, the Sultan’s heirs emptied the contents of his Knightsbridge residence which sold for a record $ 290 million in 2020, according to people close to the royal family known by the deal.
His son, Prince Khaled bin Sultan, sold a mansion in Paris, near the Eiffel Tower, worth $ 87 million in 2020 and a 220-foot luxury yacht in 2019. According to people close to him familiar with the transactions.
Informed people said some of Prince Sultan’s sons are also trying to mortgage their global assets to make up for the shortfall in traditional sources of income.
Last November, Credit Suisse filed a lawsuit against his son Fahd bin Sultan, accusing him of defaulting on loans to refinance a $ 55 million luxury yacht and a $ 48 million property in south London.
Gary Hersham, founder of luxury real estate company Beauchamp Estates, who has been involved in many of the Sultan’s family transactions, said many of the Sultan’s heirs want a less luxurious lifestyle because they spend a lot of money and want money and do not need. the luxurious relationships they inherited.
Luxury and yacht homes in Los Angeles
The report mentions the name of the late Prince Turki bin Nasser, who held the post of deputy commander of the air force and whose name was mentioned in a British investigation into what is known as the “Yamamah deal” and was among those arrested at the Ritz hotel .
The report says he sold a 203-foot yacht in 2020 and a $ 28.5 million home in Los Angeles’ Beverly Park community in 2021, according to people familiar with the transactions, but he died (in 2021) before the sale ended. house.
The newspaper was unable to contact his family for comment.