- A dispute involving a Saudi-Arabian business empire ended after the judge ruled it was complicit in defrauding more than 100 banks for billions of dollars.
- Liquidators called it “the largest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen,” and the judge labelled it a “cauldron of corruption.”
- The verdict ended the longest and most expensive case in Cayman Islands history, which began in July 2016 and cost more then $US100 million.
A court ruled that a giant Saudi-Arabian business empire was complicit in defrauding more than 100 banks, in what liquidators called “the largest Ponzi scheme the world has ever seen.”
A Cayman Islands court ruled the collapse of family owned Saudi conglomerate, Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers (AHAB) in 2009, was the result of a $US6 billion fraud from within, with the judge labelling the scheme a “cauldron of corruption.”
This case began in July 2016 and produced a 1,348 page verdict, the Cayman Compass reported.
Partners at family firm AHAB brought claims against Maan Al Sanea, who married into the family and managed its financial empire. Al Sanea was accused of committing fraud which crippled the company.
AHAB said he forged documents to borrow billions of dollars of unauthorised debt and transferred much of it to accounts in the Cayman Islands.The Saudi company also made claims against Al Sanea’s liquidators in an attempt to reclaim the wealth.
While the judge found that Al Sanea had indeed falsified accounts and committed fraud to enrich himself, he ruled that he had done so with full knowledge of the AHAB partners who were the “primary architects” of the scheme.
The judge said that the partners were willing to accept Al Sanea’s borrowing activities as “quid pro quo” for running the corrupt Money Exchange which was used as a fraudulent vehicle to allow the Saudi partners to enrich themselves.
“The inevitable conclusion is that there was no fraud perpetrated on AHAB,” Chief Justice Smellie said. “The fraud was perpetrated by AHAB and Al Sanea acting in concert against the banks to obtain borrowing which would certainly not have been provided had the banks known the true position of the Money Exchange.”
Around $US330 billion flowed through the Money Exchange from its founding to its collapse and the judge called it a “criminal enterprise” from start to finish.
Judge Smellie said: “This was a fraud carried out, with increasing sophistication, from as early as 1981. The total sums borrowed pursuant to AHAB’s fraud numbered in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In short, this was an enormous, long-standing Ponzi scheme which defrauded more than a hundred banks.”
Steve Akers, a partner at Grant Thornton and one of the liquidators involved said: “The outcome of this hard fought litigation has highlighted an extraordinary fraud perpetrated over a protracted period of time. The losses involved are many billions of dollars,” the Telegraph reported.
“Revealing the truth has required a huge investigative, forensic and legal effort.”