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(CNS Business): The Chief of Justice of the Cayman Islands ordered Saudi billionaire, Maan Al-Sanea, to pay the Algosaibi family $2.5 billion in a ruling handed down on 12 June. According to Mourant Ozannes, who were acting for the Algosaibis, this is the largest award of damages ever made by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. While the legal battle between Al-Sanea and his in-laws has been waged in London, New York, Bahrain, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia since 2009, the Cayman Islands litigation is concerned with the claim that Al-Sanea misappropriated billions of dollars from the Algosaibi family whilst managing their financial services business and transferred the proceeds into various Cayman Islands companies – claims that Al-Sanea has always vigorously denied.
Al-Sanea sought to dispute the jurisdiction of the Cayman Islands court, claiming that certain issues had to be litigated in Saudi Arabia. However, the attempts to dispute jurisdiction have been rejected by both the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and, more recently, by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Having already obtained a default judgment against Al-Sanea, Mourant Ozannes applied for an interim payment of US$2.5 billion and that application was granted by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.
The Mourant Ozannes team was led by partner and Cayman Islands Head of Litigation, Peter Hayden, and senior associate George Keightley. They instructed Ewan McQuater QC and David Quest of 3 Verulam Buildings. The wider legal team includes a team from Lewis Baach in Washington D.C., lead by Eric Lewis and Kate Toomey, who have been managing the global litigation for the Algosaibis, and a team from Lipman Karas in London, lead by Andrew Ford. The forensic investigation was carried out by a team from Deloitte lead by Simon Charlton, whose evidence was relied on by the Algosaibis in seeking the interim payment.
Peter Hayden said: "The US$2.5 billion award is the largest award of damages ever made by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands and may well be the largest ever interim award of damages made in any jurisdiction. It is an important milestone for the Algosaibi family in their attempts to seek justice. It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated team of professionals, who have all played an important part in securing this victory for our client. I am immensely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Mourant Ozannes Litigation team."
The Algosaibi family's total claims are in the order of $9.2 billion. "All questions going to quantification ... remain open to be challenged at the final damages hearing," the ruling said.
The ruling makes it more likely that Al-Sanea will now make a detailed case in his defence in the Cayman courts. So far, he has only contested the jurisdiction without arguing the merit of the case.
Algosaibi family will also need to re-plead their case using new evidence that came to light last June during a London High Court hearing, in which Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers (AHAB) contested loan repayment claims by a number of banks. They argued that Al-Sanea, the former managing director of the company's Money Exchange division, did not have the authority to bind the group to the loan facilities. However, one week into what was expected to be a seven-week hearing, the group unexpectedly withdrew its defence and conceded it was contractually bound to pay the banks.
"A party should not expect to rely upon a pleaded case which it acknowledges even if only in part, to be factually incorrect," last week’s Cayman court ruling said.
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