Top banks face claims risk in Algosaibi dispute

Lenders ordered to hand over papers in latest twist of multibillion-dollar legal battle
Top banks face claims risk in Algosaibi dispute
The court ruling is the latest in a legal saga between Al-Sanea and his in-laws
By Staff writer
Mon 07 Nov 2011 10:33 AM

Four global banks have been ordered to hand over thousands
of potentially incriminating documents in an ongoing legal battle between Saudi’s
Maan Al-Sanea and the Algosaibi family.

A New York court told HSBC, Standard Chartered, Citi and
Bank of America to release papers relating to bank accounts held by Al-Sanea,
despite the banks’ pleadings the evidence could be used against them, UK
newspaper The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

The four banks, which handled more than $1 trillion of money
linked to the Algosaibi family, had argued the information could be used to
bring cases against them, the paper reported.

Judge Jed Rakoff said the documents could raise questions
over whether the banks had taken “reasonable steps to ascertain who their customer
was.”

The court ruling is the latest in a global legal saga
between Al-Sanea and his in-laws, the Algosaibi family. The rift in the clan,
which has left some of the world's biggest banks nursing billions of dollars of
losses, followed the collapse of the Algosaibi financial empire in the wake of
the credit crisis.

Units of the conglomerate and Al-Sanea’s Saad Group, both
based in the Saudi oil city of Al-Khobar, defaulted in 2009 after borrowing
about $15.7bn from more than 80 banks.

The Algosaibi family's Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers
partnership denied liability for ensuing claims from creditors, blaming
Al-Sanea of setting up a giant scam to defraud them.

The dispute led to court cases being pursued in London, the
Cayman Islands, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.

AHAB in June conceded a $250m lawsuit filed in London by
HSBC and four other banks, after deciding the judge would likely find the
company hadn’t done enough to prevent the fraud it alleges were behind the loans.

In June, a UK court lifted a freezing order on $9.2bn worth
of Al-Sanea’s assets in what his legal team called a “significant turning point”
in the court battle. A similar order was issued in May by a Cayman court,
leaving Al-Sanea free to claim legal costs and damages from the Algosaibis.

Al-Sanea has denied the allegations against him.

For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.