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Top businessman among 14 jailed in banking fraud case.

FIFTEEN people, including a Saudi businessman, have been found guilty in connection with a major fraud case.

Saad Group chairman Maan Al Sanea was sentenced to five years behind bars in absentia and fined BD20,000 by the Lower Criminal Court yesterday.

The court also ordered BD10,000 bail for him to file an appeal against his ruling.

Five of his co-defendants were also jailed for five years in connection the crime, while eight people - a Bahraini man, a Filipina woman, two British men, a French man, two American men and a Saudi man - have been jailed for three years each for aiding and abetting the crime.

They were all fined BD20,000 each, while another British man had the case against him dropped after his death.

"The defendants were found guilty of giving the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) false bank statements for Awal Bank," read the court ruling.

"They reported a fake budget showing false profits of the bank by supplying the CBB with forged loans.

"They also destroyed documents belonging to the bank."

Mr Al Sanea was ordered by Bahrain's High Civil Court in 2015 to pay Awal Bank more than $750 million.

However, his lawyer lodged an appeal at the Cassation Court to suspend the payout until a final ruling was issued in his case.

The Cassation Court halted the massive payout described at the time as "one of the biggest monetary judgements ever awarded in the GCC".

Mr Al Sanea's defence team said they would appeal the conviction issued yesterday.

Awal Bank and The International Banking Corporation (TIBC) were both put into administration in 2009 by the CBB after defaulting on massive debts.

It sparked a worldwide scramble by financial institutions to recover an estimated $22 billion from them and other entities.

Awal Bank was part of Mr Al Sanea's Saad Group, which is locked in multiple legal battles over debts run up by both banks.

TIBC shareholders and directors were paper members of the Saudi-based Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi and Brothers (AHAB) conglomerate, but AHAB claims it had nothing to do with it and that Mr Al Sanea - who married into the Algosaibi family - was also responsible for TIBC.

Dispute

AHAB is being held accountable for $9.2bn owed to creditors, but has also taken legal action against Mr Al Sanea to recover the money.

However, Mr Al Sanea has denied wrongdoing.

In February 2015 Awal Finance Company, a subsidiary of Awal Bank, and six special purpose vehicles filed for protection in the US Bankruptcy Court in New York to shield $213m from AHAB, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In May last year the administrator of TIBC, Trowers and Hamlins, filed a $1.9bn lawsuit against AHAB at the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution.

However, AHAB said it would put an improved offer to creditors in a fresh attempt to reach a settlement.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Nov 24, 2017
Words:494
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