Detained Saudi billionaire Maan al-Sanea of the Saad Group will see his real estate auctioned off to cover unpaid debts after his company defaulted in 2009.
The auctions will begin in October, and will start off with a series of undeveloped and commercial land plots, a far and income-generation residential buildings in the Eastern Province, according to an exclusive report from Reuters.
It is a major fall from grace for the Saudi billionaire—who was at one point ranked as one of the 100 richest people in the world by Forbes.
But last year, he was detained by the Saudi authorities for billions in unpaid debt that have seen creditors chasing after them for almost a decade.
Maan al-Sanea’s detainment is not to be confused with the Saudi ‘purge’ of last year, in which the Kingdom started rounding up its wealthy businessmen and holding hundreds of them in custody in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
Some negotiated their release, sacrificing huge settlements. Others were less fortunate—either banned from travel or clamped with ankle bracelets to monitor their locations.
Maan al-Sanea’s case is different, and more clearly linked to the authorities’ stated claims of an anti-corruption drive.
After all, the Saad Group defaulted on payments so big that the case ended up being the biggest financial meltdown Saudi Arabia has ever seen, as both this group and another—AHAB (Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi Brothers) defaulted on $15 billion in loans—or more. Al-Sanea himself is said to be in debt to the tune of up to $16 billion.
AHAB earlier this month said it would try to prevent the Arab National Bank and another creditor from claiming assets of the Saudi Arabian company to settle debts. The argument is that these assets have to be frozen by royal decree.
Late last year, a three-judge tribunal appointed the Etqaan Alliance consortium to liquidate assets owned by the billionaire. Since then, Etqaan has been extensively advertising the upcoming auctions to generate interest.
In March, the Kingdom started auctioning off the Saad Group’s vehicles. Some 900 vehicles owned were auctioned off in Khobar, in the Eastern Province where the business is based.
All told, the entire process plans to auction off over 10 billion riyals (over $2.7 billion) of al-Sanea’s business empire and personal wealth.
For the real estate auctions starting next month, one unnamed source told Reuters that the sale proceeds would bring in an estimated $267-$533 million.
By Charles Benavidez for Safehaven.com
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