In a 35-page ruling, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie found that AHAB would be entitled to recover at least $2.5 billion.
The Court’s award was based on what it termed “compelling” evidence of “a pattern of massive payments to Saad Group”. The court found these payments, which were directed by Al-Sanea, to be “inexplicable having regard to the nature of AHAB’s business” and declared that AHAB’s allegations that Al-Sanea misappropriated billions of dollars were “now deemed proven against Mr. Al Sanea.”
A press released from Mourant Ozannes law firm in the Cayman Islands indicated that the interim damages award was “the largest award of damages ever made by the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands”. The firm speculated that it may be the largest interim damages award made by a court in any jurisdiction.
The ruling follows a default judgment entered against Al Sanea in November 2011. Under Cayman Islands procedure, the holder of default judgment may apply for an enforceable interim order for “a reasonable proportion of the damages which in the opinion of the Court are likely to be recovered.”
The ruling was based on the court’s detailed review of the affidavit evidence of Simon Charlton, the Deloitte partner who led the forensic investigation. The ruling found that the specific forensic evidence of payments made from AHAB to Mr. Al Sanea and companies under his control “remains unchallenged.” AHAB told the Court that it will undertake final quantification of their losses at the end of the case against Mr. Al Sanea and other parties on their claim.
Although Mr. Al Sanea has repeatedly issued public statements denying AHAB’s charges, he declined to submit any defense to AHAB’s claims in the Cayman Court. He unsuccessfully disputed the Cayman court’s jurisdiction, losing in both the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and Her Majesty’s Privy Council in London, the final appellate court.