N.Y. court dismisses claims over Saudi billionaire's alleged fraud

martes 8 de abril de 2014 19:32 GYT

By Daniel Wiessner

ALBANY, N.Y., April 8 (Reuters) - New York's highest state court has ruled that a lawsuit by the Algosaibi family conglomerate, claiming that a Saudi billionaire who married into the family committed a $150 million fraud, should be heard in Saudi Arabia.

In the lawsuit, Ahmed Hamad al Gosaibi & Brothers Co claimed that Maan al-Sanea, the billionaire head of the Saad Group, used its accounts with Dubai-based Mashreqbank PSC to commit fraudulent foreign exchange trades executed in New York.

The suit is part of a global legal battle in which the Algosaibi family claims that al-Sanea, who married into the family 30 years ago, defrauded it of billions of dollars after he was put in charge of its financial businesses.

Al-Sanea and the Saad Group have denied wrongdoing.

Reversing a lower court, the New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday dismissed the Mashreqbank claims, saying the fact that the allegedly fraudulent trades were executed in New York did not give the state's courts jurisdiction over the case.

"New York's interest in its banking system is not a trump to be played whenever a party to such a transaction seeks to use our courts for a lawsuit with little or no apparent contact with New York," Judge Robert Smith wrote for the court.

Because the suit involved a Saudi company, a Saudi citizen and an alleged fraud committed in Saudi Arabia, he said, "the jurisdiction with the greatest interest in resolving the issues...is clearly Saudi Arabia."

Al-Sanea's attorney, Richard Serio of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, said he was pleased with the decision.   Continuación...