Supporters of a businessman accused of stealing $1.5 billion while working in the United Arab Emirates say he has been detained in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

A statement released to The Associated Press on behalf of Khater Massaad on Wednesday said he was taken into custody the previous day in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. It says he was detained based on an arrest warrant issued in the UAE sheikhdom of Ras al-Khaimah.

Ras al-Khaimah last month accused the businessman of embezzling the funds while serving as head of the emirate's sovereign wealth fund.

Massaad holds Swiss citizenship and has business interests in several countries, including Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. He strongly denies the allegations against him.