French judge orders 'Aladdin's caves' of shopaholic Saudi princess Maha Al-Sudairi to be seized to pay €12m debts


John Lichfield
Thursday 07 March 2013 19:32 GMT
The Shangri-la Hotel in Paris where Princess Maha Al-Sudairi left without paying her €6m bill
The Shangri-la Hotel in Paris where Princess Maha Al-Sudairi left without paying her €6m bill

Three 'Aladdin's caves' of luxury goods stockpiled by a shopaholic Saudi princess are to be seized to settle millions of euros in unpaid bills.

A French judge has ordered the three lock-up stores in the Paris area to be cleared of jewels, art-works, leather goods and clothes believed to be worth up to Euros 12m.

Princess Maha Al-Sudairi, former wife of the late Saudi crown prince, has made headlines several times in the last four years by running up, and omitting to pay, immense hotel and shopping bills in the West. In June last year, she left the Shangri-la Hotel in Paris with 60 of her staff without paying the €6m bill for an entire floor that she had occupied for six months.

Princess Maha, believed to be in her 50s, is now being sued by six other French creditors, including a company which provided up to 30 chauffeur-driven cars a day for six months during her Paris visit last year. A judge in Nanterre west of Paris has ordered three lock-up store-rooms rented by the princess to be opened in the next few days.

Their contents will be seized and may eventually be sold to pay off the princess’ debts. Legal proceedings will be long and complex, however. The princess claims diplomatic immunity and has declined to hire a lawyer to respond to the accusations against her.

Maha al Sudairi is the divorced wife of the late Saudi crown prince and interior minister, Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, who died last June a few days before she left the Shangri-la in Paris without paying her bill. She is now believed to have been ordered to remain in Saudi Arabia.

She was confined to a royal palace in 2009 after running up unpaid bills of €15m in Paris for hotels, meals, jewels and clothes, including underwear worth €60,000.

The legal case against her has been brought by six of her French creditors, including a company called Cinquième Etoile, which provides limousines and other services to super-rich visitors to Paris.

“Every day we had about 30 cars ready for her and those who accompanied her,” a spokesman for Cinquième Etoile told the newspaper, Le Parisien. “We are still awaiting payment…The people we sub-contracted to are suing us because they haven’t beeen paid either.”

The company’s bill is estimated at €1.5million and the princess’s total outstanding debts in Paris – other than the Shangri-la hotel bill – at €10million.

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