x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Billionaire Saudi prince loses UK court case over Qaddafi jet deal

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, has been ordered by a British court to pay millions of pounds in commission linked to the sale of a private jet to Muammar Qaddafi.

LONDON // A billionaire Saudi prince was ordered by a British court yesterday to pay a millions of pounds in commission linked to the sale of a private jet to Muammar Qaddafi.

The High Court ordered one of the world's richest men to pay £6.6 million (Dh55.56m) to a Jordanian businesswoman. The judgment was scathing about Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who testified in person for two days at the trial earlier this month.

Judge Peter Smith rejected the prince's evidence on all key points in the dispute, describing it in his written ruling as "confusing", "unreliable", "hopeless" and "pathetic".

The prince was being sued by Daad Sharab, a Jordanian, who said she was not paid any commission for brokering the sale of the jet, which was completed in 2006 for £79.27m.

The prince's defence was that there was no agreement to pay a £6.6m commission but rather that Sharab would be paid "at his discretion". He told the court he paid her nothing because during the protracted sale she had "moved to the Libyan camp".

The judge wrote: "At the end of the day I simply found his evidence confusing and too unreliable and Ms Sharab's was more credible on any dispute of fact between them."

It was clear, the ruling said, that the prince's memory of some of the details was poor and that he had "made up" evidence as he went along.

"His attempts to bolster that defect in the witness box were frankly pathetic and he demonstrated great amounts of confusion," the judge added.

In a statement, Prince Alwaleed said he would appeal against the ruling.

"Prince Alwaleed believes today's ruling is wrong and is not an accurate analysis of all of the evidence before the court," the statement said.

Ms Sharab said in a statement of her own she was relieved after a stressful seven years of litigation.

"It will be extremely disappointing if the prince fails to accept the decision of this court and yet again attempts to delay payment of the agreed fee of $10 million," she said.

The prince is number 26 on the Forbes global ranking of billionaires. The US magazine estimates his fortune at 13.2 billion while he says the figure is closer to £19.8bn.