The exact charges are still unclear, Tim Pendry, al-Amoudi’s London-based spokesman, says the arrest would not affect al-Amoudi’s international business and investment.

By Salem Solomon (VOA) |

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi is a billionaire, and by most estimates, one of the richest African-born people in the world. He travels the globe managing his businesses and meeting with heads of state.

But he now finds himself in the midst of an anti-corruption sweep in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested in the Saudi kingdom last Saturday, and he is one of dozens of elite detainees sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a well-guarded ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh, awaiting the next steps by Saudi authorities.

The exact charges are unclear, but in an email to VOA, Tim Pendry, al-Amoudi’s London-based spokesman, insisted the arrest would not affect al-Amoudi’s international business empire.

“As inquiries take place in Saudi Arabia concerning certain allegations, which the Sheikh strongly refutes, this is an internal matter for the Kingdom,” Pendry said. “We have no further comment to make other than to say that the overseas businesses owned by the Sheikh remain unaffected by this development.”

The Saudi government released a statement on Tuesday aimed at reassuring investors with ties to any of the individuals arrested. It said that only personal bank accounts have been frozen, and related businesses would not be affected.

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi: Ethiopian origins

Al-Amoudi was born in Dessie, Ethiopia, in 1946 to an Ethiopian mother and a Saudi father. He immigrated to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1960s and made his first billion two decades later with a construction contract to build an underground oil storage facility.

Continue reading this story at VOA
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