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Senior Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah reportedly released

Saudi prince freed

Saudi Arabia reportedly released a senior Saudi prince who had been among dozens of prominent royals and businessmen being held under house arrest at a five-star hotel in Riyadh. Reports say Prince Miteb bin Abdullah paid a billion dollars to regain his freedom.

There's no official confirmation that Prince Miteb bin Abdullah has been released, but that's not surprising in this ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom where the government is quite opaque, reports CBS News correspondent Holly Williams.

Those rounded up in this corruption crackdown were all members of the wealthy and powerful Saudi elite. The anti-corruption campaign is being led by Saudi Arabia's new crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. He's just 32 years old and the anointed successor to King Salman.

Saudi Arabia crown prince leads modernization

There's no question that corruption is widespread in Saudi Arabia, and ordinary Saudis tell us they love the crackdown. But critics say the crown prince is using it to sideline his rivals.

Any sign of political instability in Saudi Arabia is a cause for concern because the oil-rich kingdom has so much influence across the Middle East.

There's no mistaking the liberalizing mood in Saudi Arabia, and you see much less gender segregation in offices and public places. When Holly Williams was in Saudi Arabia three years ago, she said she had to cover her head in the traditional Islamic fashion or the religious police could have punished the Saudis she was with.

The religious police are still on the street. In fact, they stopped Williams a couple of nights ago and told her to cover her head with a scarf, but now they can only hand out advice – not punishment.

Williams wore a long robe out of respect for local customs, but Saudi government officials have told her whether she covers her hair is a matter of personal choice. That might seem superficial, and of course lots of Saudi women want to cover their heads as a sign of religious piety, but Williams said she thinks it shows increasing personal freedom in the very conservative country.

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