By Claire Ferris-Lay
Bassam, Kutayba Alghanim embroiled in legal fight over divvying up of family empire
A Kuwaiti billionaire has claimed his brother paid private investigators to hack into his email account and publish private emails containing details of his personal finances and legal affairs, it has been reported.
Los Angeles-based Bassam Alghanim has filed court papers in the UK and US that allege his brother, Kutayba Alghanim, and nephew stole thousands of pages of emails over more than a year, the Wall Street Journal said.
“[My client] was horrified to discover the privacy of his email accounts had been compromised,” Bassam’s lawyer told the paper.
The brothers allegedly fell out over the divvying up of the Kuwait-based conglomerate, Alghanim Industries, founded by their father.
Bassam has since claimed that his brother and his associates accessed thousands of emails over a period of 13 months after paying private investigators $200,000 to hack his accounts, the Wall Street Journal said, citing UK and US court filings.
Kutayba, his son, and their chief legal officer, Waleed Moubarak, are each named as defendants in the US lawsuit but not in the UK action. All three declined to comment when contacted by the newspaper.
A UK court ruled in October that two British investigators had arranged the hacking via a Chinese website, Invisible Hacking Group.
Judge Peter Smith said the evidence showed the hacking was carried out at the direction of Kutayba, his son and chief legal officer. “It is clear, on the evidence I have,” he told the court.
Kutayba and his associates hired Steven McIntyre, London-based private investigator, who in turn enlisted the help of Timothy Zimmer, a forensic investigator, in 2008 to help gain access to Bassam’s two personal email accounts, according to a UK witness statement by Zimmer.
Zimmer admitted hacking the emails under McIntyre’s instructions but failed to turn up in court said the newspaper. The judge has not yet ruled on whether or not McIntyre will have to pay damages.
A New York-based judge in November held the US case pending a ruling by a Kuwaiti arbitrator, dealing with the dispute over the family assets.