The secretive sale of a private jet to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi by a billionaire Saudi prince came under scrutiny on Wednesday in a London courtroom, where a businesswoman who says she brokered the deal is suing the prince for $10m.
Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and one of the world’s richest men, is expected to give evidence, in what would be an extremely rare instance of a senior Saudi royal being cross-examined in court.
The jet in question has a history as colourful as its customised interior which boasted a king-size bed and a meeting room with a throne-like leather armchair.
Gaddafi sent the plane to pick up Lockerbie bomber Abdul Bassit Al Megrahi when he was freed from a Scottish jail in 2009, and was shown off as a trophy by rebels who toppled Gaddafi in 2011 and were photographed on its silver-coloured leather sofas.
Daad Sharab, a Jordanian businesswoman who had high-level contacts in Saudi Arabia and Libya, says Prince Al Waleed sold the Airbus A340 to Gaddafi for $120 million in a protracted process that lasted from 2001 to 2006.
Daad, 52, says the prince promised her $10 million in commission but she received nothing. Al Waleed’s lawyers say she “played no part in the ultimate sale of the aircraft” and is not entitled to payment.
The case is linked to Britain because Daad has an apartment in the country where she resides for some of the year and says she agreed the commission with a representative of the prince in a London restaurant in 2001.
In her written witness statement to the court, seen by Reuters, Daad describes a long business relationship with the prince.
Dressed in a smart black-and-white jacket, with sparkling jewellery, Daad began giving evidence on Wednesday and is due to continue on Thursday. The prince is expected to give evidence on Monday and Tuesday next week.