x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Saudi prince sued over commission for Qaddafi jet deal

London court grills billionaire over a Dh36.7m commission.

Prince Al Waleed bin Talal (centre) arrives at the High Court in London. The billionaire prince, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and one of the world's richest men, is being sued by Jordanian businesswoman Daad Sharab for $10 million over the sale of a private jet to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.
Prince Al Waleed bin Talal (centre) arrives at the High Court in London. The billionaire prince, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and one of the world's richest men, is being sued by Jordanian businesswoman Daad Sharab for $10 million over the sale of a private jet to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi.

LONDON // A billionaire Saudi prince told a London court on Monday that "each dollar counts" as he was cross-examined over his sale of an opulent private jet to Libya's former leader, Muammar Qaddafi.

The appearance by Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, was a rare instance of a senior Saudi royal being subjected to a hostile public interrogation.

The prince is being sued by Daad Sharab, a Jordanian businesswoman who says she was not paid a promised US$10 million (Dh36.7m) commission for brokering the sale of the jet to Qaddafi, which was completed in 2006 for $120m after years of delays.

At number 26 on the Forbes global ranking of billionaires, Prince Al Waleed is worth $20 billion according to the US magazine and closer to $30 billion by his own estimate.

When asked in court about a $500,000 commission he had paid Ms Sharab for a previous Libyan deal, it was suggested to him that this was a small amount relative to his fortune.

"Each dollar counts for me," the prince responded.

He told the court he had asked Ms Sharab to "open the door" to Qaddafi over the jet sale but had never agreed a figure for her commission.

The Airbus A340 at the centre of the dispute was used by qaddafi in 2009 to pick up the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Basset Al Megrahi, when he was freed from a Scottish jail.

In 2011, it became a trophy for rebels who toppled Qaddafi and were photographed on its silver-coloured leather sofas.

The prince said the jet, which boasted a king-size bed and a meeting room with a throne-like leather armchair, was only one item on a huge business agenda he had with the Libyan leader, who had turned to him in seeking international rehabilitation.

The prince said the sale of the Airbus had run into trouble when Ahmad Qadhaf Al Dam, a cousin of Qaddafi, demanded a bribe before arranging part of the payment. The prince refused to pay and kept the plane in Riyadh until he personally resolved the issue with Qaddafi in 2006, he said.

He said Ms Sharab had played no part in the final deal and also denied proposing marriage to her during the process, as she alleged in her evidence last week.

"I can only assume that (Ms Sharab) is seeking to gain some advantage in the proceedings by attempting to embarrass me," he said.