Brother of world's richest man 'had unlimited tastes'

Kate Watson-Smyth
Friday 13 February 1998 01:02

The brother of the world's richest man spent pounds 21m on a home in Park Lane so that he could "keep his prostitutes away from the public eye", the High Court heard yesterday.

Prince Jefri of Brunei would also fly up to 50 prostitutes from all over the world to his palace in Brunei for his "nightly entertainment and sex parties".

"His main interests in life involve massive self-indulgence and spending unimaginable sums of money," Christopher Carr QC claimed.

He said the Prince spent millions of pounds on expensive objets d'art including a $7-8m rug woven from solid gold thread and encrusted with precious stones as well as a collection of erotic watches and pens and a pounds 895,000 blackjack table made of jewels and semi-precious stones with a gold shoebox for the cards.

The Prince's extravagant lifestyle was outlined on the fourth day of a multi-million pound legal battle which could become one of the most expensive personal actions in British legal history.

Prince Jefri, 44, who has four wives and three children, is being sued for pounds 80m by Bob Manoukian, 50, and Rafi Manoukian, 42, two of his closest friends and emissaries, who claim he failed to honour two business deals.

The Prince, who recently bought Asprey's, the Queen's jewellers, for pounds 244m, is counter-suing for pounds 100m claiming that Rafi Manoukian exploited a friendship and made unreasonable and concealed profits out of him.

However, Mr Carr, for the Manoukians, suggested that his counter-action was motivated by spite. "Prince Jefri is so affronted and offended at being sued by the Manoukians that he has instructed that their lives should be made a misery by suing them for everything that moves and engaging them in expensive litigation until kingdom come."

The London-based brothers and the Prince were business partners for 11 years during which time they concluded pounds 500m of deals on the Prince's behalf. Prince Jefri claims he had a fiduciary relationship with Rafi Manoukian whereby he (Manoukian) acted solely in the interests of the Prince without thought to his own profit.

"The idea that Rafi Manoukian would devote over half his life - 11 years - to serving Prince Jefri for no reward is ludicrous," said Mr Carr, representing the Manoukians.

"Prince Jefri's tastes were unlimited. He was a one-man walking market on his own. The implication is that Rafi Manoukian should not have been making a profit but the Prince gave little attention to Rafi's profit.

"Prince Jefri simply wanted what Prince Jefri wanted at a price he was willing to pay."

The court, packed with 10 barristers and up to 14 solicitors, heard that Prince Jefri bought the property at 45 Park Lane, the former Playboy Club, for pounds 21m even though he had been told two months earlier that it was only worth pounds 5m.

"A substantial proportion of his extensive palatial construction in Brunei was carried out for the purpose of providing his nightly entertainment. His sex parties attended by up to 50 prostitutes from various countries flown to Brunei, paid, housed, clothed and bejewelled at his expense."

The court was shown photographs of some of the items which Rafi Manoukian procured for the Prince.

"Rafi came to hear that Prince Jefri used to have gambling sessions at 45 Park Lane for some of his friends. It was in secret because it would be frowned upon in Islamic circles," he said.

Rafi Manoukian designed and commissioned the blackjack table and Prince Jefri was delighted and agreed to pay the price asked without negotiation.

"He now claims that he did not even know that this table had been delivered - it had never been taken out of its packing until recently. That is a lie. Its purpose is to protect Prince Jefri's appearance of religious devotion from any improper taint within a society of increasingly fundamentalist attitudes."

The Prince also paid around pounds 5m for 10 watches which depict a mechanically copulating couple on the hour and pounds 800,000 on a set of pens fashioned to resemble a naked couple.

The case continues.

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