Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is reportedly set to take to the witness stand in London’s High Court next week over a legal battle he allegedly failed to pay a $10m commission on a $120m deal to sell one of his private jets to former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.
Daad Sharab, a Jordanian consultant and chairperson of a company called Trans Arab World for Commercial Mediation, claimed in court documents she was hired by Alwaleed to broker a deal to sell his Airbus A340 private jet to then President of Libya, Colonel Gaddafi.
Sharab claimed she reached an oral agreement with Fouad Alaeddin, Alwaleed’s agent, in a London restaurant on August 25, 2001 that she would broker the sale with Gaddafi and would be paid $2m commission, or if the sale price went above $110m she could keep anything in excess of this.
“In September 2005 the defendant [Prince Alwaleed] telephoned her in London to thank her for her efforts and success and to confirm that he would pay her the $10 million commission,” Sharab claimed in court documents.
Alwaleed claimed in defence that at a meeting aboard his yacht in Cannes in early August 2001 it was agreed “he would decide at his own discretion what she should be paid and that “these were matters he would assess at the end of the transaction.”
Negotiations for the sale dragged on until 2005 and involved a number of visits by Sharab to Libya to meet with Gaddafi as Libyan officials paid an initial $70m but delayed payment of the remainder of the $50m.
“After further delays and further efforts on her part the outstanding $50 million was eventually paid over and ownership of the Airbus transferred by the defendant to the Libyan authorities. She claims that thereupon she became entitled to the $10 million which, however, the defendant refused and, despite many requests, continues to refuse to pay,” court documents said.
In response, Alwaleed claimed Alaeddin did not have any authority to make the agreement with Sharab in London and he had no knowledge of the commission arrangement agreed between the two.
“[Alwaleed] accepts that the claimant [Sharab] and Mr Alaeddin each played a role in the eventual sale of the Airbus but contends that their effectiveness in achieving this was limited and that (as he puts it in his witness statement of 1 September 2010) "the two crucial steps in forcing a resolution of the issues" holding up the sale (which he then describes) were taken by himself,” court documents said.
Evidence also claimed that Sharab was also involved in convincing the Libyan Agricultural Investment Company to invest $20m in a development called Project Toushca, an Egyptian agricultural venture being developed by a subsidiary of Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Company. This deal eventually fell through and never went ahead.
Alwaleed will take to the witness box in London next week, British media have claimed, and while his legal team questioned why the case should be heard in the UK, the House of Lords ruled that jurisdiction existed as the agreement between Sharab and Alaeddin took place in a restaurant in London’s West End.
The case has only come to light now as Sharab’s ongoing dealings with Gaddafi’s regime led to her being detailed in Libya and she was only released when the former leader was removed from power following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.