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Whatever Became of Mohammed al Amoudi – 3; Saudi’s Announce an Upcoming Trial

December 17, 2018

Protesters demonstrate against environmental pollution caused by Mohammad al Amoudi owned MIRDOC Lega Dembi mine in Shakisco, Ethiopia. Critics of Midroc’s mine allege the company dumped chemicals from its operations near Shakiso into rivers used by residents and livestock for drinking water, resulting in birth deformities and animal deaths. The protests forced the Ethiopian government to close the mine and withdraw MIRDOC’s permit recently.

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Along with a number of other Salman misadventures – the Saudi-UAE genocidal war against Yemen, the attempted – and largely failed – blockade of Qatar, the support for the Bahraini dictatorship and the colossal failure of the U.S.-Saudi (and others) war against the Assad government in Syria, most of all the Saudi failure to isolate Iran and bring down the Teheran government – Saudi influence in the Middle East and Horn of Africa is shrinking with the Kashoggi murder being something a kind to “the icing on the cake” or the straw that broke Salman’s back.” Further all this has led to a re-evaluation in Washington as to Salman’s reliability as a U.S. ally and regional proxy with a deepening split between Trump’s support of Salman (encouraged by Israel) on the one hand and increasingly worried U.S. intelligence community – and their voices in the U.S. Congress – that have concluded that the young Saudi autocrat, like Ben Ali, Mubarek before him, has outlived his usefulness. 

Enter into the picture the unresolved fate of those Saudi billionaires incarcerated in November 2017 and essentially shaken down big time for most of what they are worth. A year later, some remain inprisoned, among them Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed al Amoudi. 

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Recently, the fate of Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire, Mohammed al Amoudi has been the subject of several articles appearing in mainstream press outlets. In the aftermath of the Kashoggi murder, worldwide attention has focused on those Saudi billionaires still incarcerated in Riyadh as a part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s anti-corruption campaign.

One of those arrested in November, 2017 and still incarcerated is Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire, Mohammed al Amoudi. As al Amoudi is the largest private investor in Ethiopia – his investments there estimated at anywhere from $1.5-$3 billion depending on the source – Addis Ababa is concerned about his fate, and the possible changes in ownership of his Ethiopian enterprises. The longer that Mohammed al Amoudi is not seen in public or his continued existence otherwise verified, the rumors that he has been killed only intensify.

For those unfamiliar with Al Amoudi, and his history, his connections to the Saudi royal family, his near indictment as a conduit for funds to Al Qaeda through BCCI, read Parts 1, 2. The short introduction goes like this. Mohammed al Amoudi is an Ethiopian born Saudi citizen, considered at different times either “Africa’s richest man” or close to it. Different estimates of his wealth vary from some $8.5 billion to as high as $13 billion dollars., no shrinking violet.

Some thirteen months ago, al Amoudi was “detained” – a polite way of saying he was arrested – by the Saudi authorities. Some commentators described the anti-corruption campaign as little more than a cynical shakedown of the country’s most wealthy. Al Amoudi was one of many Saudi princes, businessmen and government higher-ups that was forced to “cough up” 70% of their assets or face the grisly music. That said most of the detainees through persuasion or less savory means made their deals with the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi’s de facto man of the hour so to speak.

Along with a few others whose fate is also unknown, al Amoudi however remains “detained.” although it is still somewhat of a mystery if he was “Kashoggi-ized”  or otherwise placed on the other side of the great divide or if he is alive as is asserted.

As a recent December 13, 2018 Bloomberg on-line article notes:

Most of the detainees were released earlier this year; however several high-profile figures are still being held. The government has never officially announced who was freed, who remains in custody or what charges they face.Al Amoudi’s arrest is of particular interest to Ethiopia, where the billionaire owns vast assets. In May, after a visit to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that he had inquired after Al Amoudi and was “sure” he would be released soon.

Al Amoudi - Assets

Al Amoudi global assets, according to Bloomberg.

The same Bloomberg article leads with a number of new teases , that the Saudi billionaire is alive, in good health and in contact with his family. This comes from “a Saudi official speaking on condition of anonymity.” That same anonymous official stated that al Amoudi is going to face trial for corruption although no date has been given.

What’s missing from the picture: any positive confirmation that al Amoudi is still alive or if he is, as the anonymous official asserts “in good health.” There is no photo of him, no written statement that can be confirmed.  Al Amoudi’s personal spokesperson, Tim Pendry, has asserted that the billionaire is alive, in good health and “in touch with relatives,” again, any independent confirmation that might substantiate this fact is missing. Nor has there been any information forthcoming concerning what precisely, besides having the support of the wrong Saudi prince, that he is being charged with.

It is plausible that Mohammed al Amoudi is indeed still alive.

It might have taken Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman some time to separate al Amoudi from his vast holdings in gas and oil refineries in Norway, France, Italy and Sweden and to shake loose – extort – the billions from the Saudi-Ethiopian businessman’s many bank accounts.  from the billions of dollars. Nor is the fate known of al Amoudi’s vast holdings in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa. Have their ownership been transferred to Salman or have they met another fate?

Dead or alive, the Kashoggi murder continues to hang over the Saudi crown prince’s future tarnishing his reputation worldwide, and possibly threatening his grip on power. Some human rights experts claim in an effort to deflate some of this pressure, that Salman might release a number of other “Ritz-Carleton prisoners.” The somewhat official Saudi leak, that al Amoudi is alive, could be part of Salman’s face-lifting campaign although he can’t seen to shake off the consequences of Khashoggi’s officially sanctioned – and grizzly – assassination, try as Salman might.

A more cynical explanation: Al Amoudi is dead having been “Kashoggi-ized;” he is someone who knows a lot of unsavory and deadly confidential intelligence going all the way back to the 1980s; like Khashoggi, al Amoudi has a Muslim Brotherhood connection. But as a result of all the bad publicity that has rained down on the Saudi kingdom in general, and the Crown Prince in particular since Kashoggi’s murder, Salman’s hand has been stayed. The Crown Prince is looking for some kind of delaying tactic either to put al Amoudi on trial or to admit his departure from this world.

A second gruesome high-profile murder (should that be the case) for which he would be deemed responsible would almost certainly end Salman’s political career and more than likely in a rather dramatic – typically Saudi manner. The argument continues that the announcement of a trial (without charges) is simply a delaying tactic. Given the advice that his good buddy and Trump Presidential Adviser, Jared Kushner, gave him – lay low for a while and don’t do anything (else) stupid – such an approach might make sense.

 

 

 

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