Saudi Royal Family Tangled Up in $21M Superyacht Fight

A millionaire London lawyer and yachtsman, who acquired a $21 million superyacht on behalf of his clients which he personally sailed, faces being forced to sell his $5 million London home in a long running legal battle with the clients, who are Saudi Arabian royals.

The London Times is among British newspapers to report on a day of courtroom drama Monday that saw details emerge of how Ronald Gibbs, 66, established and managed a $25 million investment fund for Princess Reema Bint Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and her brother, Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in 2011. The money was left to them by their father, a former Saudi defence minister.

Gibbs invested in various assets, including a boat building company he controlled, the 40-metre Sunseeker 131 superyacht, Elysium, and a $3.6 million apartment in Montenegro, the High Court in London was told.

However, the princess complained that Gibbs failed to sell the assets and return the money after being first asked to do so in 2013, and following a 2018 settlement mandating him to do so. Another lawsuit was filed by the Saudi royals in 2021 claiming breach of the 2018 settlement, and a worldwide freezing order was imposed on Gibbs’ assets.

Gibbs says that he no longer has control over the yacht or access to the Montenegro apartment and that he has been living “hand to mouth” as a result of the freezing order, the Daily Mail reports.

The princess was asking a court to order the sale of Gibbs’ $5 million house in west London to cover a $2.6 million interim damages and costs bill, resulting from the previous ruling, and alleges Gibbs has “not paid a penny.”

Gibbs, whose former colleagues reportedly earn up to £2 million a year at asset finance specialist London law firm Linklaters, from which he retired in 2006, says the house’s beneficial owner is his ex-wife and children and accused the Saudi royals of being engaged in “warfare” against him.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the princess’s lawyer told the High Court: “In 2021, Mr Gibbs said—including by way of sworn affidavit and through his solicitors—that he owned the property 100 per cent beneficially. Mr Gibbs, an experienced solicitor, now seeks to deny that this is what he really meant.”

He added that Gibbs has “never repaid a penny” of the money despite “accepting his obligation to do so… and having the means to do so.”

The judge said he would hand down judgement at a later date.

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