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Credit Suisse wins $41m lawsuit against Saudi prince

REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A person walks past the Credit Suisse office in Canary Wharf in London, Britain, on March 20, 2023

Swiss lender Credit Suisse has won a $41 million lawsuit against a member of the Saudi royal family over a loan to refinance a super yacht, after London’s High Court ruled there was no viable defence to the bank’s case.

Prince Fahad bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is liable to pay his company Burgundy Sea Ltd’s debts to Credit Suisse, Judge Robert Bright said in a written ruling.

The judge had ruled in Credit Suisse’s favour without a trial at a hearing last month, at which the prince and Burgundy were unrepresented, and published his ruling on Wednesday.

Credit Suisse and the Saudi government’s communication office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prince Fahad and Burgundy, a special purpose vehicle ultimately owned by the prince, were sued by Credit Suisse in 2021 over a €48 million ($52.5 million) loan for the refinancing of luxury motor yacht, the Sarafsa.

The 82-metre yacht – which features a cinema, a gym and five guest decks – was listed for sale by luxury yacht broker Burgess Yachts for €65 million as of October 2022, a drop of €10 million on its previous asking price.

A spokesperson for Burgess told Reuters that the yacht was withdrawn from the market last week. The Sarafsa arrived at the port of Valletta in Malta on April 1, according to data on the VesselFinder ship tracker.

In September 2021, Credit Suisse demanded Burgundy pay all its total debts for alleged breaches of the loan agreement and then called on Prince Fahad to settle the debts, under a personal guarantee of Burgundy’s obligations.

Prince Fahad and Burgundy admitted that only €13,500 of interest had been paid to Credit Suisse, but denied any interest was due or that they had breached the terms of the loan agreement, Bright said in his ruling.

However, the judge said that Prince Fahad and Burgundy “have no real prospect of successfully defending (Credit Suisse’s) claims”.