Saudi Superyacht Dispute Pits Credit Suisse Against Gulf Prince

Credit Suisse pursues a Saudi prince in court, alleges, he failed to repay the bank around $78 million for a superyacht.

Saudi Superyacht Dispute Pits Credit Suisse Against Gulf Prince
Workers clean the decks of a yacht. (Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg)

Credit Suisse Group AG is pursuing a Saudi prince in court, alleging he failed to repay the bank around $78 million in interest and loans he took out to refinance his 82-meter (269-foot) superyacht and mansion property in England.

In a London lawsuit filed in November, the Swiss bank said that two companies defaulted on a pair of loans it provided for refinancing the luxury purchases. Prince Fahad Bin Sultan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province, is the guarantor for the loans and the ultimate beneficiary of the assets, according to Credit Suisse. 

The Cayman Islands-registered motor yacht ‘Sarafsa’ is worth about 58 million euros ($65.5 million), according to the court filing. The property estate, situated close to the storied Wentworth Golf Club outside London, was valued at 35 million pounds ($47 million) in 2019.

The suit offers a glimpse into how Saudi royalty sometimes use offshore vehicles to finance their luxury lifestyle but also how even the super-wealthy can run afoul of one of Europe’s biggest banks.  

A spokesperson for Credit Suisse declined to comment on the suit. The U.K. law firm representing both the prince and one of the firms declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Prince Fahad bin Sultan didn’t respond to requests for comment. His lawyers are yet to file defense papers in the U.K. case. 

Credit Suisse says a British Virgin Islands-based special-purpose vehicle defaulted on a loan facility agreed in 2020 for the yacht by failing to pay interest, fees and costs. The bank also said it failed to provide evidence that the prince held liquid assets of at least $25 million “free of encumbrances,” which was in breach of their agreement. That prompted Credit Suisse to write to the prince in November demanding that he pay the more than 37 million euros it says it’s owed.

It’s a similar story with the estate. The Zurich-based bank accuses another British Virgin Islands-based firm of defaulting on a loan facility it agreed to in 2017 by not repaying part of the loan plus interest. Credit Suisse said it then told the prince to pay the outstanding debt of 26.5 million pounds.

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