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Saudi hunt for former intelligence tzar arrives in Malta

October 19, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman attends a meeting during the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019 [BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia’s hunt for its former top intelligence official, Saad Al-Jabri, has arrived in the island of Malta, opening a new front in the international feud between the exiled critic and Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.

Known as MBS, the de facto ruler of the Kingdom has been locked in legal battles with Al-Jabri in the US and Canada for over a year. The Saudis have accused Al-Jabri of misappropriating state funds and embezzlement.  They have been desperate, ever since, to get their hands on the 63-year-old who fled the Kingdom following “soft-coup” that saw MBS replace Mohammed Bin Nayef as crown prince.

Al-Jabri left the kingdom in 2017 and settled in Turkey before moving to Canada. Last year, he filed a lawsuit in the US claiming that Bin Salman had ordered a hit squad to seek out and kill him, just thirteen days after the murder of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi government has also filed a case in the US against Al-Jabri, alleging that he embezzled state funds. He has denied the allegation.

With Al-Jabri’s links to US intelligence, having been Riyad’s top intelligence officer for many years, Saudi Arabia’s relentless pursuit of him even prompted a rare intervention by the American Justice Department over concerns that state secrets could be leaked during the legal case.

READ: US honors Khashoggi’s ‘extraordinary life, legacy’ on third anniversary of his murder

In the Maltese part of the international feud, Riyadh is seeking to prevent Al-Jabri, who acquired citizenship of the Island state in 2016 through the Individual Investor Programme, from selling his Tigné Point apartment in Sliema.

In the Maltese court case, the Saudi-registered Sakab Saudi Holding Company is said to have filed a warrant of injunction against Al- Jabri and his Cayman Island registered company, Ten Leaves Management, to stop them from transferring the right to use an apartment at Tigné Point, Sliema north of the capital Valletta.

According to Malta today, the sixth-floor apartment in the luxury development was purchased in 2018. Sakab, part of a group of 17 companies set up by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, claims Al-Jabri used offshore structures to hide illicit profits to enrich his family and purchase properties around the world.

Al-Jabri is accused of using Sakab as a vehicle to distribute €6 billion in funds to other commercial entities between 2008 and 2017, funnelled to other members of the Sakab group, allegedly on Al-Jabri’s instructions. Apparently, the vast majority of the financial transactions were “off the books” and not declared in the official accounts.

“It is in the humble understanding of the applicants, and this always according to the evidence in hand, that Ten Leaves bought the properties using funds misappropriated through a fraudulent scheme as part of Jabri’s efforts to hide and launder misappropriated monies,” Sakab, which is represented in Malta by lawyer, Louis Cassar Pullicino, said.

Al-Jabri has denied the allegations of embezzlement and misappropriation of state funds.