x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Gulf showdown between Al Gosaibi and Al Sanea has international reach

What began as a Saudi-Bahrain affair in 2009 rapidly escalated as Al Gosaibi adopted a high profile strategy of international legal action against Maan Al Sanea in a bid to recover assets the group claims had been stolen from them.

Maan Al Sanea has vigorously rejected the allegations against him, and resisted all actions against him outside Saudi Arabia. AFP PHOTO / MIDO AHMED
Maan Al Sanea has vigorously rejected the allegations against him, and resisted all actions against him outside Saudi Arabia. AFP PHOTO / MIDO AHMED

What began as a Saudi-Bahrain affair in 2009 rapidly escalated as Al Gosaibi adopted a high profile strategy of international legal action against Maan Al Sanea in a bid to recover assets the group claims had been stolen from them.

Mr Al Sanea has vigorously rejected the allegations and resisted all actions against him outside Saudi Arabia.

The international dimension would probably have been inevitable even without the Al Gosaibi family's global campaign of litigation because of the large amount of borrowing the groups had taken on in the years running up to the bank defaults in Bahrain.

More than 100 banks outside of Saudi Arabia, including some in the UAE, claim to be owed money by the Al Gosaibi family or Mr Al Sanea, with a total of about US$12 billion (Dh44.07bn).

Talks between Al Gosaibi and some international creditors continue, while other banks have taken legal action.

Foreign creditors claimed a victory in 2011 when a London court ordered the Al Gosaibis to repay $250 million to five banks, including HSBC.

Legal sources say no significant sums have yet been repaid, however.

Legal actions are also under way in New York, where the UAE's Mashreq is fighting a move by Al Gosaibi to force disclosure of financial transactions between it and a company related to Mr Al Sanea.

Al Gosaibi lawyers are also seeking to force four banks - HSBC, Bank of America, Standard Chartered and Citibank - to disclose details of billions of dollars of transactions between them and a Saudi company called The Money Exchange.

In the Cayman Islands, where much of Mr Al Sanea's businesses were registered, the Al Gosaibis were awarded $2.5bn against him last year in an interim judgement.

There are also legal actions going on in the Emirates against Al Gosaibi by Mashreq, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, First Gulf Bank and Union National Bank.

* Frank Kane