Maan al Sanea faces criminal charges in Bahrain

Maan al Sanea faces five criminal charges in Bahrain relating to his role in the events that led to the collapse of two banks in the kingdom.

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Maan al Sanea, the head of the Saudi conglomerate the Saad Group, faces five criminal charges in Bahrain relating to his role in the events that led to the collapse of two banks in the kingdom nearly two years ago.

Mr al Sanea, who has consistently denied all allegations against him in the long-running affair, is named as first defendant on a list of 15 executives in documents filed in a Bahraini court by the kingdom's public prosecutor.

The charges were the subject of a brief hearing in the lower criminal court in Manama last month, but this is the first time the details have emerged. The National has seen a copy of the charge sheet.

The prosecutor says in the filing the charges involve "the violation of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) law, the commercial companies law and the penal code".

The charges include providing false information to the CBB over the financial position of The International Banking Corporation (TIBC) and Awal Bank, mis-stating asset and profit figures, and providing false information to the CBB and auditors.

The charges also allege Mr al Sanea "was involved by way of incitement, agreement and assisting" other defendants "in committing the crime of providing the CBB, in bad faith, with false and misleading information, whereby he incited and agreed with them to commit such crime and he assisted them in doing so by providing them with false and misleading information to provide the CBB."

Mr al Sanea is also charged with "the crime of destroying and concealing files which involve loan transactions".

A spokesman for Mr al Sanea declined to comment on the charges in detail, but said his client denied any wrong-doing in relation to the Bahraini banks and any of the global litigation involving him and his companies.

When the banks defaulted on debts in May 2009 it sparked a bitter corporate battle between Mr al Sanea and the al Gosaibis, which has resulted in multibillion-dollar legal actions across the world and allegations of fraud, forgery and theft.

Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi and Brothers, the family partnership that claims to be the victim of a US$9 billion (Dh33.05bn) fraud, is not a party to the Bahrain case.

Nine charges are being considered by the Bahrain court against the 15 former executives of the two banks (although one, the former treasurer of the TIBC Kevin Moriarty, has since died).

Named as the second defendant is Glenn Stewart, the former chief executive of TIBC who fled Bahrain last year and is now living in California. Mr Stewart is accused of providing false information to the CBB.

"The allegations are without merit and I will vigorously defend myself," he said.

Mr Stewart is also defending a legal action in the US involving a $9bn claim against him by the al Gosaibi family.

Three British bankers - Anthony James, Alistair MacLeod and Cliff Giddings - are also named as defendants in the case.

They left Bahrain last year after the intervention of the British government to secure their release from travel bans imposed by the Bahraini authorities.

A source close to the three said they denied all charges and would defend themselves.

A further hearing on the charges is scheduled in Bahrain for April 17.