x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Gosaibis seek to lift court order

The embattled Al Gosaibi business family of Saudi Arabia has asked a court in the Cayman Islands to lift a freezing order on some billions of dollars of assets belonging to its opponent, the entrepreneur Maan Al Sanea.

Maan al-Sanea, one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest businessmen.
Maan al-Sanea, one of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest businessmen.

The Al Gosaibi business family of Saudi Arabia has asked a court in the Cayman Islands to lift a freezing order on billions of dollars of assets belonging to the Saudi Arabian entrepreneur Maan Al Sanea.

A statement from the Al Gosaibi's New York law firm, Baach Robinson & Lewis, said the family had "moved for voluntary dismissal of its worldwide freezing order against Mr Al Sanea and his companies".

When the order was granted more than two years ago, it was regarded as a significant success for the Al Gosaibi family in their battle against Mr Al Sanea, whom they have accused of fraud. He has consistently denied the allegation. In June the Al Gosaibi family lost a court case in London brought by financial creditors.

The Al Gosaibi lawyers explained the move to free up the assets: "As in most large cases, further documents came to light that would have required further court proceedings to update the court, and obtain a further freezing order based upon current knowledge, and that was viewed as a diversion of attention given the few assets that remain covered outside of Saudi Arabia."

The freeze covers most of Mr Al Sanea's assets outside Saudi Arabia, mostly under his Saad Group holding company, apart from some liquid assets held in London. Since July 2009 they have been under the control of fiduciaries appointed by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.

When the international accounting firm Grant Thornton, appointed liquidators on behalf of creditors, reviewed the assets in 2009 they found cash, equities, bonds and other financial instruments to the value of US$6.2 billion (Dh22.77bn).

However, liabilities in the Cayman companies reduced this value to a net $2.21bn. Grant Thornton said then there was "material uncertainty" as to the amount the assets might fetch in a disposal programme.

There is as yet no estimate available of their current value.

New evidence emerged during the London court case in June, which caused the Al Gosaibis to drop their defence of a claim for $250 million by four international banks, and admit liability.

The family had alleged that Mr Al Sanea had stolen $9.2bn from the family through fraud, forgery and deception, largely via loans they claimed were unauthorised.

Mr Al Sanea has denied the allegations and a spokesman for Mr Al Sanea declined to comment yesterday.

In the weeks running up to the London hearing, new evidence emerged that some members of the Al Gosaibi family had known about some of the loans when they were arranged.

A source close to the Al Gosaibi family said the move to unfreeze the Cayman assets was "largely procedural".

Other legal actions are still pending in the US. A New York court is considering an appeal from the Al Gosaibis over an earlier ruling that the case should be heard in Saudi Arabia; and there is a case in Los Angeles claiming $8bn from Glenn Stewart, the former chief executive of one of Mr Al Sanea's companies.

More than 100 banks are owed between $15bn and $20bn as a result of the Al Gosaibi-Al Sanea affair.

 

fkane@thenational.ae