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UK court lifts $9.2 billion Saad asset freeze order

The lifting of the freezing injunctions obtained by the Algosaibis against Mr Al-Sanea marks a turning point in a bitter dispute between the former partners

Reuters, Friday 7 Oct 2011

Maan Al-Sanea, the founder of Saudi Arabia's Saad Group, has seen a UK court lift a freezing order on US$9.2 billion worth of his assets in what his legal team called a "significant turning point" in a bitter legal battle with his in-laws.

The move by London's High Court, which follows a similar order by a Cayman court two weeks ago, leaves Al-Sanea free to claim what is expected to amount to several millions of pounds worth of legal costs as well as damages from the Algosaibi family, a London-based spokesman said.

"The lifting of the freezing injunctions obtained by the Algosaibis against Mr Al-Sanea -- both in the Cayman Islands and now in England -- marks a significant turning point in the litigation between the parties," said Louis Castellani, a lawyer at Harbottle & Lewis, who represents Al-Sanea in London.

The Algosaibis' main lawyer, Eric Lewis, said the family would continue to pursue a fraud claim against Al-Sanea in the Cayman Islands and litigation in Saudi Arabia, as well as continuing to cooperate with investigations in the United States, Switzerland and Bahrain.

"The dropping of the freezing orders does not in any way affect the validity of the fraud claim," he said by email from the United States.

The rift in the family clan was triggered two-and-a-half-years ago by the collapse of Algosaibi and Al-Sanea's financial empires in the wake of the credit crisis, leaving some of the world's biggest banks nursing billions of dollars of losses.

The Algosaibi family's Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers (AHAB) partnership denied liability for ensuring claims from creditors, blaming Al-Sanea -- who is married to AHAB partner Sana Algosaibi -- for setting up a giant scam to defraud them.

Al-Sanea has denied the allegations.

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