Cairo: An Egyptian business tycoon has accused a Saudi princess of defrauding him of 75 million Egyptian pounds (Dh50 million).
The high-profile case has drawn scathing criticism against the reckless behaviour of businessmen in this country where around 40 per cent of the population is believed to live below the poverty line.
Yahya Al Koumi, a businessman famed for enterprises in the oil industry, has told prosecutors that Kholoud Al Anazi, a Saudi princess, had bought five luxury villas from him, and defaulted on paying the estimated 50 million pounds. He moreover, alleged that Kholoud, an ex-wife of Saudi business tycoon Prince Al Walid Bin Talal, had swindled him out of jewellery worth 25 million pounds.
"I came to know Kholoud months ago when she came forward to buy my five villas, which I had offered for sale because I was in need of money," Al Koumi was quoted in the local press as saying.
He added that he had agreed to register the deal at a local bank when she promised to pay the price immediately afterwards.
"But she kept on procrastinating. The last time I went to her house in Giza [south of Cairo] to demand [that she pay] the money or hand back the villas, she ordered her bodyguard to dismiss me. At the time, I became sure I fell ... victim to fraud."
Kholoud has vehemently denied the accusations, saying she was the wife of Al Koumi and that he offered her the villas and jewellery as a dowry. "Three days after I knew him, he asked for my hand in marriage. Upon his insistence, I agreed to marry him secretly and keep the right to divorce him," said Kholoud in an interview.
"Our marriage, which lasted three weeks, was made secret upon my request because my family has strict traditions and doesn't approve of marrying people other than Saudis," she told the independent Egyptian newspaper Al Masri Al Youm.
"I have caused a scandal for my family. I admit I made a mistake. But my marriage to Al Koumi was in accordance with Islamic Sharia and was conducted by a Muslim cleric."
Kholoud said she had divorced him because she found out he was penniless. "During our brief marriage, he got around 3,000 pounds from me. I had spent money on him since the first day of our marriage. It was the biggest swindle I have ever suffered in my life."
Egyptian prosecutors are investigating a complaint filed by the Saudi princess that Al Koumi threatened to kill her.