Palestinian billionaire businessman Sabih al-Masri has been detained in Saudi Arabia on a business trip to Riyadh, his family confirmed to Reuters news agency.
The 80-year-old founder of Zara Investment Holding and chairman of Arab Bank was held in the Saudi capital for questioning last week about “information related to corruption”, according to Rai al-Youm.
The Arab news website reported on Saturday that no formal charges were made against al-Masri, who reportedly also holds Saudi and Jordanian citizenship.
Al-Masri, one of Jordan’s most prominent businessman, is the cousin of the billionaire Munib al-Masri, the wealthiest person in Palestine.
He also founded the Palestine Securities Exchange, and has managed investment companies and financial economic institutions across the Middle East and beyond, including Arab Bank.
Headquartered in Amman, Arab Bank is Jordan’s largest lender and functions as a major economic engine throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Masri’s detention sent shockwaves across Jordan where Masri’s multibillion-dollar investments are a cornerstone of the economy and employ thousands.
Reuters reported that Masri had cancelled a dinner for friends and business associates that was planned for Tuesday upon his return to Jordan.
Saudi Arabia initiated an anti-corruption purge at the beginning of November, which has implicated some of the country’s top officials, businessmen and members of the royal family.
Among those detained are 11 princes, four ministers and several former ministers, in what is seen as an unprecedented crackdown that has shaken the country.
Many of them are believed to be held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. Several had their accounts frozen and ended up on a no-fly list.
The dramatic steps were the latest in a series of measures by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assert power over the country and its previous leaders.
Shortly after the first arrests were made in the purge, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced that his son, the crown prince, would oversee a newly formed anti-graft commission that would purge the country of corruption.