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A lawsuit brought against Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal, the prominent Saudi investor, by a woman who claims she acted as a broker to help him sell an aircraft for $120m to Colonel Muammer Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, is set to come to trial in London following a High Court ruling.
Daad Sharab, a Jordanian, who runs a consultancy which provides commercial introductions for clients, has brought a lawsuit against Prince Al-Waleed who is chairman of Kingdom Holdings Company which at the time owned assets including an Airbus A340 and a Boeing 767.
The lawsuit centres around Ms Sharab’s claim she is allegedly owed $10m of commission following her role in the sale of the Airbus to the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company.
In a High Court ruling on pre-trial issues, Sir William Blackburne, the judge, noted that negotiations for the aircraft sale took place over many months between 2003 and 2005 and the price achieved was $120m.
Colonel Muammer Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, was “closely involved in the Airbus transaction as, given its specifications, the aircraft was intended for his use.” the judge added in the ruling.
Ms Sharab has claimed that on one occasion it was agreed that if she succeeded in selling the Airbus for anything in excess of $110m, she could keep the excess and said she was “acting in a personal capacity.”
The judge noted that Prince Al-Waleed acknowledges that Ms Sharab negotiated with the Libyan authorities and Col Gaddafi but “contends that his arrangement with her, agreed at a meeting with him on board his yacht in Cannes in early August 2001, was that depending on what her contribution was to a completed sale of one of his aircraft to Col Gaddafi and to raising money for Project Toushca [an agricultural project in Egypt], he would decide at his own discretion what she should be paid.”
The judge noted that the court case was due to be heard in November 2010 but in January 2010 whilst on a visit to Libya, Ms Sharab had been detained and kept in a compound in Tripoli without explanation.
During the Libyan uprising last year, she was not allowed any contact with the outside world and was moved to a prison. In August 2011, Libyan revolutionaries gained access to the prison where she was held and she was able to escape to Tunisia.
In the complex pre-trial ruling the judge said he was not concerned with the merits of the dispute but ruled on four applications which effectively means that her claim will be brought on narrower grounds.
The judge ruled that he would want “these proceedings to come to trial with a minimum of further delay..”
The start of the case is not expected to be until later this year at the earliest. Ms Sharab is represented by TLT Solicitors and Prince Al-Waleed is represented by Hogan Lovells.