Saudi Arabian State Taking Control of bin Ladin Construction Giant – Some bin Ladin Family Members are Already in Detention

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is taking managerial control of Saudi Binladin Group and discussing a possible transfer of some of the giant construction group’s assets to the state while its chairman and other family members are in detention, sources told Reuters.

Binladin, which had over 100,000 employees at its height, is the biggest builder in the country and important to Riyadh’s plans for large real estate, industrial and tourism projects to help diversify the economy beyond oil.

However, the group has been hurt financially in the past couple of years by a slump in the construction industry and a temporary exclusion from new state contracts after a crane accident killed 107 people at Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 2015. It was forced to lay off thousands of employees.

Riyadh’s move to take control appears aimed at ensuring the group can continue to serve Saudi Arabia’s development plans, said banking and industry sources, who declined to be named due to the political and commercial sensitivity of the matter.

The government detained scores of senior officials and businessmen in October as part of a sweeping crackdown on corruption. The Binladin group’s chairman Bakr Bin Laden and several family members have been held, the sources said.

Saudi officials are trying to negotiate settlements with detainees, saying they aim to claw back some $100 billion of funds that rightfully belong to the state. The talks on Binladin’s future are part of this effort, the sources said.

Since the detention of Bin Laden family members, the finance ministry has formed a five-member committee, including three government representatives, to oversee the group’s business and handle relations with suppliers and contractors, the sources said.

Binladin executives did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. Finance ministry officials and the government media office also did not respond to requests for comment.

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  • Drunk by Noon ✓

    Is this another sign of the ‘Saudi Reform’?

    • It’s a sign of Saudi plunder, par for the course. Seems more like they consolidating power by arresting the opposition.

      • Drunk by Noon ✓

        It might be more the power than the money with the Saudis.

  • Barbara

    May I suggest reading ‘The Siege of Mecca” by Yaroslav Trofimov 2007, The Forgotten uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda. It explains the tension between those who deny the House of Saud as legitimate keepers of the faith, and continually arise in other forms calling the faithful back to a ‘pure islam’ under the leadership of descendents of Muhammad. Bin Laden employees assisted in the bringjng in of weapons for the 1979 uprising/siege. If we understand what happened on November 20, 1979 in Mecca, we may be able to see reoccuring historical patterns. I think Crown Prince Salman has sent signals harking back to that time, and his every move is not about America, it is about controlling a spectrum of Islamic forces and ultimately maintaining the House of Saud’s grip on Mecca, Wahhabism and the Ummah. All of his moves have been forceful.

    • Drunk by Noon ✓

      I always appreciate a good book recommendation.
      I grabbed the audio book just now from Audible and will give it a listen.
      Thanks!

    • Thomas Henderson

      We sometimes forget the significance of the attack on Mecca in 1979. My understanding is that it really did set the stage for the subsequent Saudi export of Wahhabi Sunni extremism. Personally don’t know much about the effects on the home front. Thanks for the reference.

      • Drunk by Noon ✓

        I was just barely a teenager when it happened but it seemed like 1979 was a very chaotic or restless year for all of Islam.
        You had the Iranian revolution, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Mecca dust up, along with a few other things that I’m probably forgetting.

        • Thomas Henderson

          Combined with the Iranian hostage situation, the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s bid for the White House, and the election of Margaret Thatcher in the UK 1979 had a far greater impact on subsequent world events than 1968 ever did. The Hippies and Boomers will never let us forget Woodstock and Trudeaumania and so it looms up in public discourse more often.