Hizbollah cash case to be heard in High Court

By Simon Rocker, June 28, 2013

The High Court is set to hear a dispute next year over a company partly controlled by a Saudi prince, which is alleged to have laundered money for Hizbollah.

Mr Justice Vos has cleared the way for the case to go ahead after a challenge as to whether the court had jurisdiction to hear it.

The legal action follows the fallout between Arab business partners in a UK-registered company, Fi Call, which was set up to market an app allowing smartphones to make free calls.

On one side is Apex Global Management, a company owned by Jordanian businessman Faisal Abdel Hafiz Almhairat, whose sons developed the app.

Ranged against him are Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Mishal bin Abdulzaziz Al Saud and Emad Mahmoud Amed Abu Ayshih, directors of a company called Global Torch.

Also named in the proceedings is Prince Abdulaziz’s father, Prince Mishal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Apex and Global Torch each hold shares in Fi Call.

Mr Almhairat claims that three years ago he was asked by Mr Ayshih to transfer $5 million (£3.25 million) from Fi Call to a businessman in Beirut. But when he made his own inquiries, he says he was informed by a third party that the businessman was a middleman for Hizbollah.

According to the hotly disputed transcript of a telephone call, Mr Almhairat says he was then told by Prince Abdulaziz: “We deal with whoever we want to deal with, whether it’s Hizbollah, the mafia or even the Jews.”

Mr Almhairat also claims to have been told by Prince Abdulaziz that his father, Prince Mishal, was interested in the deal and that Hizbollah had potentially “billions” it wanted to transfer. Mr Almhairat claims that he was threatened if he did not comply.

In March 2010, $5 million was debited from Fi Call’s account and credited back three days later.

But lawyers acting for the two princes and Mr Ayshih have dismissed Mr Almhairat’s claims about Hizbollah and other transactions as “far-fetched, incredible and fanciful”.

In turn, Global Torch alleges that Mr Almhairat has misappropriated millions from Fi Call — which he denies.

The collapse in business relations has led to petitions from both sides to the High Court seeking compensation and a ruling over the future ownership of Fi Call.

The two princes and Mr Ayshih argued that Mr Almhairat’s claims had no reasonable prospect of success and fell outside the jurisdiction of the court.

But Mr Justice Vos ruled that a full hearing of the case should take place in January.

Last updated: 12:45pm, June 28 2013