The daughter in law of King Salman of Saudi Arabia is being sued for £6 million after allegedly failing to pay fees on lucrative property deals, including the sale of her country estate to a Russian billionaire.
A senior confidante to the Saudi royals accuses Princess Nouf bint Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud of withholding fees due to him for property deals he brokered in London and the Home Counties.
Mohamed Hussein says the Princess failed to pay him his share of the deals after he made her millions of pounds more than she had expected.
Lawyers for Mr Hussein maintain that as a result of his work "Princess Nouf was enriched at his expense” and that her refusal to pay is in breach of contract.
Princess Nouf, 54, is the widow of Prince Fahd - the eldest son of the current Saudi ruler, Salman bin Abdulaziz, one of the richest men in the world.
Following her husband’s death in July 2001, at the age of 46, Princess Nouf, who is supported financially by King Salman and her own family, has divided her time between Saudi Arabia, the US and her home in South Kensington,.
In 2004 she arranged for Mr Hussein, her private secretary, who had previously held senior positions in the Saudi Embassy in London and the private office of the late King Fahd and the kingdom’s current ruler King Salman, to handle the sale of her 30 acre Harewood Estate, near Ascot, with its three palatial houses and extensive gardens.
Knight Frank and Savills estate agents both placed the property on the market for £22m, but then advised Princess Nauf to drop the price to £18m and even consider offers of £13m, as there had been little initial interest from prospective buyers.
But Mr Hussein, 63, was convinced he could obtain the original asking price for Princess Nauf.
He knew that a mansion at nearby Wentworth Park - which was not even as luxurious as the Harewood Estate - had been sold to the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, an opponent of Russian president Vladimir Putin, for at least £18m.
Berezovsky’s body was later found by a bodyguard in a locked bathroom at another home with a ligature around his neck. Although an inquest recorded an open verdict and police found no proof of foul play, there were claims Putin had masterminded the death.
A writ lodged by Mr Hussein’s lawyers in the High Court said: "Knowing that other Russian businessmen were looking to acquire properties in that area, and . . . Mr Hussein advised Princess Nouf that the market value of the Harewood Estate was around £25m.”
Indeed Mr Hussein went on to secure the sale of the estate to the billionaire Russian industrialist Andrey Melnichenko for more than £25m in December 2004.
He claims that under the terms of his consultancy agreement with Princess Nauf he should have been paid a fee of 1.5 per cent of the sale price, amounting to £375,000.
Mr Hussein claims he then went on to negotiate an £8.2m discount on the Wellcome Trust’s £21.5m asking price for the freehold of Princess Nauf’s Mortimer House home, in South Kensington, for which he should have received a fee of £66,500.
The writ states that Mr Hussein also oversaw the multi-million redevelopment of two nearby mansion block apartments, in Egerton Gardens, on behalf of the Princess.
Mr Hussein says he persuaded Princess Nouf the properties were a potentially lucrative investment and she asked him to arrange for her to buy them.
As a result he oversaw the £14.6m purchase and redevelopment of the apartments, which were eventually valued at the significantly increased price of £18.5m.
Mr Hussein, who lives in Old Windsor, maintains that as her agent and project manager he is now entitled to at least 10 per cent of the apartments’ value, at £1.85m.
His duties for the Saudi royal family included accompanying them when they travelled abroad, and attending Prince Fahd at any hour of the day or night he required.
In 1997 he became a director of Eirad, the company which managed the family’s properties, fleet of cars and vast collection of artwork.
Mr Hussein is also claiming he is owed more than £3.4m in expenses and remuneration, as a well as unpaid rent of £30,000 on a property near Windsor Castle, where Princess Nouf housed several of her staff.
The total sum being pursued by Mr Hussein amounts to £6,079,342.97. Mr Hussein maintains that in May 2016 the Princess’s eldest son, Prince Sultan bin Fahd, promised he would be paid.
Princess Nouf's solicitors, Mishcon de Reya, said: "We do not comment on client matters; and our client looks forward to the High Court determining this matter."