The woman at the centre of a $20m London property fraud has denied allegations she is an Ethiopian prostitute. She says she can back up her claims she is a wealthy Saudi princess by producing evidence of her lavish spending sprees.
Sara Al Amoudi, who arrived at the London High Court in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce with an ‘HRH’ number plate and accompanied by three bodyguards, claims to be the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, a Saudi businessman who was ranked the 63rd richest man in the world by Forbes in 2011 and is estimated to have a wealth of around $12.3bn.
Her real identity and alleged wealth are central to allegations by London property developers Amanda Clutterbuck and Ian Paton that she is a fraud and she convinced them to transfer six luxury London apartments worth £14m ($20.8m) into her name as part of a larger property deal they believed would be funded by the Al Amoudi family.
The couple claim funds for the larger deal failed to materialise and the 30 year old woman refused to return ownership of the six apartments, which are based in upmarket London areas such as Knightsbridge and Belgravia.
”I thought I was living through an Alfred Hitchcock film, in which reality seemed to be totally distorted,” Clutterbuck told the court, claiming Ms Al Amoudi and her sister were not Saudi princesses but “were in fact prostitutes”.
Giving evidence before the court this week, Ms Al Amoudi refuted these allegations: “They say I’m a prostitute. It’s not true. I swear to Allah I’m not liar.”
The prosecution also produced witness Negat Ali, an Ethiopia-born south London furniture dealer, who claimed Ms Al Amoudi was not a Saudi princess and was a former prostitute originally from Ethiopia and they had previously worked together in a restaurant in Yemen.
Speaking from the witness box, Ms Al Amoudi told the judge she had a fortune of up to £10m and was addicted to shopping. She said she often spends up to £100,000 in a single shopping spree and had spent over a million dollars over the last two months on just perfume.
“I’m afraid I’m addicted to spending money, and get through enormous amounts of cash. I can easily spend £50,000 to £100,000 in one spree... I have a problem with shopping – I go to doctor. In the last two months my perfume, only the perfume – $1.4million. I can show you the pictures,” Al Amoudi was quoted as saying in the witness box in a report by the Daily Mail.
However, Clutterbuck and Paton claim Ms Al Amoudi obtained her wealth by using her fake identity to borrow money from various banks, with reports claiming she had borrowed £4m from HSBC and allegedly had £165m in an account in Barclays bank.
“The only money she paid for the properties was in fact the costs of redeeming existing mortgages and charges on them which she largely funded with the monies she had already fraudulently obtained from HSBC Bank by representing herself to be someone she was not - the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein al Amoudi,” Stuart Cakebread, the legal representative for Clutterbuck and Paton, told the court.
“This woman is not our client's daughter," lawyers representing Sheikh Al Amoudi told the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Ms Al Amoudi claimed she was receiving a weekly allowance of £100,000, which was delivered to London from Saudi Arabia each week in a suitcase and Paton was hired to manage these funds.
She denied she planned to enter into a joint venture with the couple and said the six properties were bought with the funds being managed by Paton.
Dubbed ‘The Vamp in the Veil’ by the British media, Ms Al Amoudi claims to have dated footballer Freddie Ljungberg and actors Colin Farrell and Joaquin Phoenix and previously appeared in court in 2010 when her ex-boyfriend, Swedish model Patrick Ribbsaeter, was cleared of assaulting her chauffeur.
On other evidence, Ms Al Amoudi claimed she was having an affair with Paton, he stolen money from her and he was a crack cocaine user, allegations which he has denied.