A Saudi Billionaire Vanished For 400 Days And His Global Empire Boomed


Some 400 days after Mohammed Al Amoudi went missing, word came Thursday of his whereabouts: In custody in Saudi Arabia and awaiting trial on corruption and bribery charges.

The good news for Al Amoudi, one of the world’s richest men, is that during his prolonged absence, much of his global business empire has thrived. Sales at his Sweden-based oil refiner Preem AB have surged more than 30 percent and his Stockholm office properties have risen in value.

Since being seized by security forces in Riyadh last year as part of a sweeping crackdown by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his net worth has climbed by about 6 percent to $8.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people.

The situation highlights the contradictions of being a wealthy Saudi under the de facto reign of the crown prince, whose embargo of Qatar, war in Yemen and alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi have shocked the world but prompted little apparent change in his agenda.

During Al Amoudi’s long detention, rumors spread among Saudi Arabia’s business elite that he had died.

A Saudi official who asked not to be identified confirmed Thursday that the billionaire is alive and in custody, though no trial date has been set. Al Amoudi has been in touch with relatives and is reported to be in good health, according to his spokesman, Tim Pendry. He disputed that Al Amoudi has been officially charged with any wrongdoing and declined further comment.

Al Amoudi, whose fortune can be traced to a Saudi government contract during the reign of King Fahd, has accumulated $7.6 billion of assets outside the Kingdom and owns businesses employing thousands of people in Europe and Africa. But as the past year’s events prove, his earliest benefactor — the Saudi royal family — still holds sway.

The Ethiopian-born businessman is one of several high-profile individuals still detained in the corruption crackdown. Most of the other billionaires and princes have been released after agreeing to hand over more than $100 billion in cash and assets. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who chalked up his detention to “a misunderstanding,” is once again making deals and borrowing huge sums. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the former head of the National Guard who forked over $1 billion in bail, was seen meeting with King Salman.

The veneer of normalcy betrays an anxiety quietly gripping wealthy Saudis who are increasingly looking to move money abroad or even leave.

“Liquid assets were shifted out quite quickly after the purge,” said Marcus Chenevix, an analyst at investment research firm TS Lombard in London. The crackdown targeted wealthy members of the business elite from Jeddah in particular, a group — Al Amoudi included — who prospered in part through ties to King Abdullah and King Fahd. King Salman was a former governor of Riyadh and things were “tense from the moment he came in,” Chenevix said.

In Sweden, where Al Amoudi’s Preem is the country’s biggest fuel company, business is proceeding as normal, with a few adjustments. Last month, Preem announced it had replaced Al Amoudi as chairman with a former global head of corporate finance at Morgan Stanley, Jason Milazzo. The company’s statement acknowledged it had “no further confirmed information” regarding its missing sole shareholder.

Both Fitch and S&P Global, which rate Preem’s debt, have given rosy assessments of its credit health. Yes, the sole shareholder of the $5 billion company has been missing for months, but the operations haven’t been affected, the analysts wrote. Al Amoudi “was not really involved in the day-to-day management of the business,” Fitch analyst Vladislav Nikolov said.

Al Amoudi’s brother Hassan has been granted power of attorney, according to a June 30 presentation from Preem’s parent company, Corral Petroleum. The brother, who owns a furniture factory in Jeddah, isn’t otherwise involved in the business, spokesman Pendry said.

Preem, whose bright green and yellow signs adorn hundreds of gas stations throughout Sweden, is responsible for almost a third of the Nordic region’s refining capacity. Al Amoudi’s 100 percent stake is worth $5.1 billion. He also owns an $835 million oil explorer, a home builder, commercial real estate and various industrial businesses, making him one of Sweden’s largest private investors.

While Al Amoudi delegated day-to-day management to other executives, his deep pockets were helpful in the harshly cyclical energy industry. A 2016 bond prospectus by Corral Petroleum highlighted Al Amoudi’s ranking on global wealth lists and “continued commitment” to the company in the form of hundreds of millions of dollars of shareholder loans and contributions.

None of the billionaire’s business associates has publicly sought answers from Saudi Arabia on Al Amoudi’s predicament. The only outspoken advocate for Al Amoudi’s release has come from Ethiopia, where the billionaire is the largest single private investor. His assets there, which include land holdings, gold mines, coffee plantations, a fuel company and hotels, are conservatively valued at $1.2 billion.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told state media in May he was confident Al Amoudi’s release was imminent after he made a personal appeal to the crown prince. In August, Ahmed told reporters he’d gotten word from Saudi officials that the industrialist’s release was being postponed for “some proceedings” and vowed to keep up the pressure.

“Sheikh Al Amoudi’s detention is a national issue,” Ahmed said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Mike Pence Says ‘Empire And Aggression’ Have No Place In Indo-Pacific


Mike Pence said small and large countries should be allowed to prosper in the Indo-Pacific (File)

Singapore: 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told leaders of Southeast Asian nations on Thursday that there was no place for “empire and aggression” in the Indo-Pacific region, a comment that could be interpreted as a reference to China’s rise.

Pence did not mention China in his remarks at the opening of a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore, but stressed that small countries as well as large ones should be allowed to prosper in the Indo-Pacific.

The prime minister of Singapore later said that Southeast Asian countries did not want to take sides when pulled in different directions by major powers, but that one day it may have to.

Leaders at the ASEAN meetings this week heard warnings that the post-World War Two international order was in jeopardy and trade tensions between Washington and Beijing could trigger a “domino effect” of protectionist measures by other countries.

“Like you, we seek an Indo-Pacific in which all nations, large and small, can prosper and thrive – secure in our sovereignty, confident in our values, and growing stronger together,” Pence said. “We all agree that empire and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific.”

He said Washington had taken action to promote this vision, including steps to spur private investment in infrastructure and a pursuit of trade that is “free, fair, and reciprocal”.

The vice president also highlighted the United States’ “pressure campaign” on North Korea, its “commitment to uphold the freedom of the seas and skies” and determination to ensure that Southeast Asian nations are secure in their sovereign borders, on land, and at sea in the digital world.

Pence’s comments follow a major speech in October in which he flagged a tougher approach by Washington towards Beijing, accusing China of “malign” efforts to undermine U.S. President Donald Trump and reckless military actions in the South China Sea.

The United States has conducted a series of “freedom of navigation” exercises in the contested South China Sea, angering Beijing, which says the moves threaten its sovereignty.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which some $3 trillion of shipborne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam – all ASEAN members – as well as Taiwan.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war in which they have imposed increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.

Asked at a news conference how important it was for ASEAN not to take sides when major powers are trying to pull it in different directions, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said:

“It is very desirable for us not to have to take sides, but the circumstances may come when ASEAN may have to choose one or the other,” Lee said. “I hope it does not happen soon”.

Leaders from the 10-nation ASEAN joined counterparts from China, the United States, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand for the meetings.

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Empire State Building, New York Lights Up In Orange To Celebrate Diwali 2018


Happy Diwali 2018: This was the first time that Diwali celebration lit up the Empire State Building

New York: 

For the first time, the iconic Empire State Building was lit orange in celebration of Diwali. The world famous structure turned orange on Wednesday night as Indians across the world celebrated the festival of lights. The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), the largest non-profit umbrella organisation in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut of the Indian community, lit up the monument in a special ceremony.

It was organised by the FIA in cooperation with the Empire State Realty Trust and attended by key members of the Indian diaspora. A special dance performance and cultural show was also presented on the occasion.

Federation of Indian Associations President Srujal Parikh said this was the first time that Diwali celebration lit up the iconic building and was “witnessed by thousands of people, including tourists from all over the world.”

At the November 7 ceremony, Miss America 2014 Nina Devuluri and popular singer Jay Sean along with Srujal Parikh flipped the switch to turn on the orange lights on top of the Empire State Building.

The Empire State Realty Trust or ESRT and the FIA have been illuminating the Empire State Building in August every year in the colours of the Indian tricolour – orange, white and green – for the past two decades to mark India’s Independence Day.

The FIA said such gestures by the ESRT help in spreading the ancient Indian philosophy of Vasudeva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) and also demonstrates a great harmony in spirit and deeds between people of the world’s largest and oldest democracies.

For Srujal Parikh, that was the central message when he organised the India Day parade this year, bringing together for the first time communities from other South Asian and Caribbean nations.





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Empire State Building, Niagara Falls Lit-Up For India’s Independence Day


Niagara Falls was illuminated in saffron, white and green to mark India’s Independence Day (File)

New York: 

The iconic Empire State Building and Niagara Falls were illuminated in the colours of the Indian flag to mark India’s 72nd Independence Day with the Indian community in the US celebrating the occasion, showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage and history through a plethora of events.

A special ceremony was organised at the world-famous skyscraper in New York’s midtown Manhattan for lighting it up in saffron, white and green.

“Happy India Day from New York City! Together with the Federation of Indian Association, we’re honouring India’s Independence Day by recreating the Indian flag in lights tonight,” the twitter handle of the Empire State Building, the 1,454 feet-tall building with 102 stories, said in a tweet.

 
Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty accompanied by Srujal Parikh, president of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and singer Mickey Singh attended the event.

The Niagara Falls, arguably the world’s most breathtaking waterfalls and one of the most visited tourist spots globally, was also illuminated in saffron, white and green to mark India’s Independence Day.

The Indian diaspora in the US celebrated the Independence Day with patriotic fervour and zeal, showcasing the country’s rich cultural heritage and history through a plethora of events across America.

In Washington, the Indian Embassy organised a flag-hoisting ceremony at the embassy residence. The ceremony was attended by members of the Indian community in large numbers.

India’s Ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna unfurled the tricolour, after which those present sang the National Anthem.

Mr Sarna then addressed the guests and as a custom, read out President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the nation. He also handed out prizes to the children of the Indian diaspora who participated in singing of patriotic songs and speech competition on the topic ‘India of My Dreams’, organised by the Embassy as part of ‘[email protected]’ celebrations.

A brief cultural programme involving rendition of patriotic songs by school children was also organised to mark the occasion.

India’s permanent mission to the UN and the Indian consulate in New York also hosted events to mark the occasion.

Bollywood actor Anupam Kher attended the festivities.

India’s envoy to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin hosted the festivities at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.

Following the unfurling of the tricolor at India’s consulate in New York, Consul General Chakravorty addressed the gathering.

The event was attended by about 200 people including prominent members of the Indian community and local dignitaries including Congresswoman Grace Meng, Assemblyman David Weprin, Assemblyman Raj Mukherjee and Senator Vin Gopal.

A short cultural programme was also organised by the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, including singing of patriotic songs and poetry recitation.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) sponsored a seven-member group consisting of acclaimed Kathak dancers – Sandip Mallick and group with Anuj Mishra and group that presented a Kathak performance at the consulate.

The team in collaboration with the consulate and the famed Battery Dance Company performed in the city later in the evening.

Independence Day celebrations were also held at the consulates in Chicago, Houston, Atlanta.

On August 19, the FIA will organise the 38th India Day Parade that will run through several streets of Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan, featuring tableaux by various Indian-American organisations, marching bands, police contingents and cultural performances by young Indian-American children.

Actor and politician Kamal Haasan, his daughter Shruti Haasan, Mr Kher and legendary cricketer Vivian Richards will headline the India Day parade.

Mr Parikh has said he expects about 150,000 people to attend this year’s cultural extravaganza, which will feature 35 floats and 30 marching contingents as well as dance performances such as Bihu and Lavani showcasing India’s regional diversity.

Mr Parikh said the parade’s central message will be ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world is one family’ and will bring together for the first time communities from other South Asian and Caribbean nations.

Ministers and diplomats from nations such as Antigua, Sri Lanka and Nepal are expected to attend the parade.

Mr Parikh, an IT manager in the New York Police Department and trustee of the NYPD Indian Police Officers organisation, said the city’s police department will also participate in the parade.

Every year, thousands of people from the Indian diaspora converge in the heart of Manhattan in their traditional finery to celebrate India’s Independence Day.

The day-long celebrations also include special food stalls, cultural extravaganza and floats by various Indian organisations based in the US.

Popular celebrities and artists from India are invited every year as chief guests and grand marshals for the parade.

In the previous years, actors Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan, Rana Daggubati, Tamannaah Bhatia, Sunny Deol and Raveena Tandon have attended the parade.

The parade, the world’s largest India Day parade outside India, will reach 1.4 million viewers through live telecast.

 





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A Monument Of Blood”: New Series On Mughal Empire In The Pipeline


“Taj – A Monument of Blood” will capture the dark side of the story of the Mughal empire.

Mumbai: 

“Taj – A Monument of Blood”, a period drama series on the rise and fall of the the Mughal empire, is set to be produced by Applause Entertainment in partnership with Contiloe Pictures, who are confident of presenting a story with a mix of blood, betrayal, power, beauty, deceit and heartbreak.

The series will capture the dark side of the story of the Mughal empire, which ruled India for just over 3 centuries and had emperors like Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Writing is currently underway.

The tale will be told over 5 seasons of twelve episodes each, using the birth and death of Shah Jahan as bookends. It will delve deep into the Mongol origins, bloodlines mixing with Persian and Rajput royalty, the court and palace intrigues, the repeated purging of aspirants to the throne, and the arrival of the British and Portuguese.

Sameer Nair of Applause Entertainment calls himself a big fan of revisionist narratives of history.

“Our history books have been written by victors and often paint very two-dimensional pictures about past empires. When Abhimanyu Singh (Contiloe Pictures) and I first discussed this idea, we immediately moved away from a typical historical to a darker and edgier version of the Mughal empire, a version in which symbolically the Taj is more a monument of blood, than a monument of love,” Mr Nair said in a statement.

Mr Singh, who has produced a slew of historicals for the small screen, says the new series will show viewers the historic journey through a fresh lens.

“It will take viewers on a historic journey showing them an unseen perspective of this illustrious dynasty which lead to their rise as the greatest empire in medieval times and the quest for power, within it, that finally lead to its downfall.”





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NDTV EXCLUSIVE : Delhi Police gripes over Sangam Vihars Lady Don empire


नई दिल्ली: दिल्ली के संगम विहार में ‘लेडी डॉन’ का बेहद खौफ है. अपराध की दुनिया में उसे मम्मी के नाम से पहचाना जाता है. उसके आठ बेटे हैं और सभी अपराधी हैं. पूरे परिवार पर 113 संगीन मामले दर्ज हैं. हालांकि अब धीरे-धीरे उसका अपराधों का साम्राज्य खत्म होने को है. बुधवार को पुलिस ने उसका घर भी सील कर दिया.

दिल्ली के संगम विहार थाने के एसएचओ उपेंद्र सिंह ने अपराधियों की हिस्ट्रीशीट खंगाली. एक हिस्ट्रीशीट उपेंद्र सिंह को बेहद अलग दिखी. यह हिस्ट्रीशीट थी बशरीन उर्फ मम्मी और उसके आठ बेटों की. बशीरन वह अनोखी मां है जो खुद तो अपराध करती ही है अपने सभी आठ बेटों को भी अपराध करने पर शाबाशी देती है. थोड़ी ही देर में मम्मी की धरपकड़ के लिए तैयारी शुरू हो गई.

कई पुलिस कर्मियों की टीम मम्मी के घर की तरफ चल दी. मम्मी के घर तक पहुंचना आसान नहीं था, क्योंकि रास्ता ऊबड़-खाबड़ है. कुछ दिन पहले तक पुलिस भी वहां जाने से कतराती थी. उसके गैंग में इतने लोग हैं कि वे मौका मिलते ही हमला कर देते हैं. अखिरकार पुलिस के साथ एनडीटीवी की टीम भी उसके घर पहुंच गई. उसके बारे में पता किया गया, लेकिन उसका कोई सुराग नहीं मिला. मम्मी पिछले पांच महीने से फरार है. उसका इस इलाके में जबर्दस्त खौफ है. बीते बुधवार को इस घर को अदालत के आदेश पर पुलिस ने सील कर दिया. यानि उसके अपराध के साम्राज्य पर आखिरी कील ठोक दी गई.


कोर्ट के आदेश पर पुलिस ने बशीरन के घर को अटैच्ड कर दिया है, लेकिन इलाके में उसका अब भी इतना खौफ है कि कोई भी बात करने को तैयार नहीं. इलाके के कई नाबालिग लड़के अपराधी हैं जो उसको मम्मी के नाम से पुकारते हैं.

यह भी पढ़ें : पश्चिमी राजस्थान में अफीम तस्करी का सबसे बड़ा रैकेट चला रही महिला डॉन गिरफ्तार

दक्षिणी दिल्ली की एडिशनल डीसीपी विजयंती आर्या ने बताया कि जब ये (बशीरन) भगोड़ा घोषित हो गई तो सेक्शन 83 सीआरपीसी द्वारा हमने कोर्ट को रिक्वेस्ट किया कि इसके संगीन अपराधों को देखते हुए और ये देखते हुए की ये लगातार अपराध कर रही है, इसकी प्रापर्टी को अटैच्ड कर दिया जाए.

 

sangam vihar   delhi police


पुलिस के मुताबिक बशीरन ने अपने बच्चों को तो अपराध में धकेला ही, इलाके के सैकड़ों नाबालिग बच्चों को भी पहले नशे की लत लगाई और फिर उन्हें अपनी गैंग में शामिल कर लिया. विजयंती आर्या ने बताया कि 113 केस तो इनके परिवार पर ही हैं. इसके अलावा भी इलाके के और बच्चे जो कि उस एक सेंसटिव ऐज में होते हैं, जहां वे अपने अच्छे-बुरे का निर्णय नहीं ले पाते, उनको भी पैसे का लालच देकर या एक अच्छी ज़िंदगी का लालच देकर या फिर मौजमस्ती ऐश का लालच देकर जुर्म की तरफ धकेल रहे थे.

एक स्थानीय निवासी ने बताया कि इसका (बशीरन) आतंक का साया ऐसा है कि रात में आठ बजे के बाद कोई महिला रोड पर चलने से डरती है. यह 8-10-12 साल के बच्चों को अपना शिकार बनाती है. पहले नशे की आदत डालती है, चरस, गांजा खिलाना-पिलाना.. जब 6-7 महीने में आदत पड़ जाती है तो फिर उनको यह बदमाश बनाती है. उन्हें चाकू, छुरा, रिवॉल्वर देती है.

 

sangam vihar   delhi police


इलाके में दिल्ली की सरकारी पानी की पाइप लाइन पर बशीरन का कब्ज़ा है. वह यहां अपने तरीके से पानी बांटती है और लोगों से घंटे के हिसाब से पैसे वसूलती है. आसपास के लोग अपने घरों से झांकते तो नज़र आए लेकिन उसके खिलाफ मुंह खोलने वाले मुश्किल से मिले. एक स्थानीय निवासी ने बताया कि इन्होंने कई बोरों पर कब्ज़े कर रखे हैं. 700 से 1000 रुपये वसूलते हैं. बहुत ही आतंक है इन लोगों का. लेकिन अब जो पुलिस ने काम किया है वह बहुत ही बढ़िया किया है. आज तक ऐसा काम नहीं हुआ.

बशरीन के आठ बेटे हैं. अपराध में यह परिवार काफी आगे है. बशीरन यानि गैंग की सरगना पर 9 मामले दर्ज हैं. उसके बेटों में शमीम पर 42, शकील पर 15, वकील पर 13, राहुल पर 3, फैज़ल पर 9, सनी पर 9, सलमान पर 2 और एक नाबालिग बेटे पर 11 संगीन मामले दर्ज हैं. इन मामलों में 7 केस हत्या के और 3 हत्या की कोशिश के हैं.

बशीरन पर शिकंजा कसना तब शुरू हुआ जब इसी साल जनवरी में उसने एक लड़के को अगवा करवाकर घर के पास जंगल में उसकी हत्या करवानी चाही, लेकिन समय रहते पुलिस पहुंच गई और वह लड़का बच गया. तब पता चला कि बशीरन ने जंगल में 17 सितंबर 2017 को मिराज नाम के एक लड़के की हत्या करवाकर उसे वहीं दफन करवा दिया था. तभी से बशीरन फरार है और उसे कोर्ट ने भगोड़ा घोषित किया है.

 

sangam vihar   lady don bashiran home  delhi police


बशीरन ने पुलिस से बचने के लिए अपने घर के बाहर सीसीटीवी कैमरे भी लगवाए थे. फिलहाल उसके घर में बशीरन समेत चार लोग फरार हैं, दो जेल में हैं और तीन जमानत पर बाहर हैं, लेकिन वे भी फिलहाल इस इलाके से गायब हैं.VIDEO : हथियारों की तस्करी करने वाली महिला गिरफ्तार

अपराध की वजह से संगम विहार को लोग संकट विहार भी कहते हैं लेकिन पुलिस की हाल की कार्रवाई से अपराधियों में तो खौफ पैदा हुआ है, यहां के लोग भी खुश हैं.



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