Tycoon Is Beneficial Owner Of Property, Liquidators Say
Originally posted on Law360
Law360, London (November 6, 2023, 5:48 PM GMT) — Liquidators attempting to enforce a €74.6 million ($80 million) award against a tycoon have alleged that he, rather than his wife, is the beneficial owner of a London mansion, arguing that he made unchallenged representations in court claiming that he was.
Greig Mitchell and Kenneth Krys, joint liquidators of MBI International & Partners Inc., said in an Oct. 27 High Court claim that Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber — who transferred shares away from his business when it was in liquidation — is the beneficial owner of the property. A charging order over the house should therefore be pursued to pay his debt, they claim.
The Saudi entrepreneur’s wife, Makiyah Mahmood Al Jaber, claims to be the true beneficial owner. But the liquidators claimed that she has not produced a single document over the 31 years since the home was bought that supports her claim to have any interest in the property.
According to the claim, Al Jaber gave evidence in court proceedings between 2016 and 2019 that stated or implied he was the beneficial owner and that Makiyah was “content to allow representations to be made to different judges that [Al Jaber] was the beneficial owner of the property — because that representation was true.”
Al Jaber agreed to swear that no other person has asserted a legal or beneficial interest over the property and, assuming that was made, it is “inherently unlikely” that he “committed perjury by dishonestly pretending that an asset belonged to him …when the asset in fact belonged to his wife,” the liquidators said.
The claim stated that the property would have been protected at HM Land Registry, the department for registering ownership of property in England and Wales, if Makiyah had had an interest in it.
The liquidators said that Al Jaber’s wealth meant it could be inferred that he bought the property using his own money and that there is a presumption under English law that beneficial interests coincide with the legal estate.
Al Jaber also took out a mortgage and the bank loaned money to him having been told that the property was solely owned by the tycoon, the liquidators claim.
Judge Joanna Smith ruled in February at the High Court that Al Jaber did not strip $3.65 billion in assets from his company to keep it out of the hands of creditors. But she ordered him and another company in the British Crown dependency of Guernsey to pay €67.1 million in damages for transferring shares out of it after liquidation.
A further €7.5 million was ordered to be paid in interest, according to the claim.
Makiyah argued in June that she is, in fact, the beneficial owner of the property in question rather than her husband. She proposed that the court should hold off from issuing a finalized charging order over the property until ownership has been determined.
The judge adjourned a decision on making a final charging order over the London property for two months. The issue of beneficial ownership of the property is now to be determined by these proceedings.
Representatives for all parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.
The liquidators are represented by Jon Colclough of South Square.
Sheikh is represented by Mishcon de Reya LLP.
Makiyah is represented by RLS Solicitors Ltd., trading as RLS Law.
Full counsel details were not immediately available on Monday.
The case is Greig Mitchell and Kenneth Krys (as joint liquidators of MBI International & Partners Inc.) v. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and Makiyah Mahmood Al Jaber, case number CR-2017-003513, in the Business and Property Courts at the High Court of Justice of England and Wales.