Saad Group’s Al-Sanea Hit With $88.6 Million U.K. Asset Freeze

The investment unit of Saad Group, a Saudi company in global litigation over its default in 2009, won a U.K. court order freezing 57.3 million pounds ($88.7 million) held by its billionaire founder Maan al-Sanea.

Saad Investments Company Ltd., which is being liquidated in the Cayman Islands, won the asset freeze in the High Court in London yesterday after claiming there was a risk al-Sanea would spend the money before paying potential damages. The unit also claimed al-Sanea failed to return hundreds of documents he removed from its legal offices in Geneva two years ago.

“There is a risk of dissipation in this case” and a “failure to cooperate with the liquidators,” Saad Investment’s lawyer, Stephen Atherton, said of al-Sanea, one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men. The company also claims al-Sanea removed $60 million at the time he took the documents.

Al-Sanea has been sued in courts around the world by Saudi Arabia’s Algosaibi family, which he married into before founding Saad Group. Their Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co., a group of companies spanning multiple industries, defaulted in 2009 on about $15.7 billion in loans. Al-Sanea won dismissal this week of Algosaibi’s $9.2 billion asset-freeze against him in the Cayman Islands.

Al-Sanea, who is banned from leaving Saudi Arabia and has had his accounts there frozen, was ordered by the U.K. judge to provide a list of his assets worth more than $100,000. His lawyer, Richard Morgan, denied the claims behind the U.K. asset-freeze and said al-Sanea should be able to spend his money to repay Saudi Arabian creditors.

The Cayman Islands court appointed Grant Thornton as liquidator for Saad Investments in July 2009. Grant Thornton also sued Algosaibi for about $8 billion -- a lawsuit Algosaibi has said is baseless. Algosaibi claims al-Sanea heaped debt on the company by taking out fraudulent loans obtained with forged documents.

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