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US congressman urges investigation into Saudi family companies

US congressman Peter King yesterday urged the Department of Justice to investigate the relationship between US banks and two Saudi-based, family-owned conglomerates; Saad Group and Ahamad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB).

In a letter to the US attorney general, Eric Holder, King said: "I am writing to express concern regarding potential lapses in oversight over the national banking system that may allow the US financial institutions to perpetuate massive global money laundering originating from persons in the Middle East," reported the Associated Press.

The two conglomerates are currently locked in a bitter courtroom dispute after AHAB accused Maan Al Sanea (pictured), the Saad Group's billionaire owner, of "massive ongoing fraud" in July 2009 in which they claim he misappropriated approximately $10 billion. (Continue reading here)

The letter calls for the US government to investigate transactions involving billions that passed between banks in the Gulf and New York. "I believe it is imperative to the national security and fiscal healthy of our nation that our government monitor such activity and scrutinise irregularities for violations of international law," King said. 

Saad and AHAB are believed to owe up to $20 billion to banks across the world, although the exact figure is unknown. Some international banks have already taken action against the groups, including a lawsuit filed against Al Sanea by the Ahil Bank of Kuwait in September 2009. (Continue reading here) This is in addition to various other international lawsuits they are facing.

The first signs of financial trouble at the Saad Group, a second-generation conglomerate that has its origins in property and construction, surfaced in May 2009 when Al Sanea had his bank accounts frozen by the Saudi National Bank. The situation deteriorated quickly for the company as questions were raised about its links to AHAB, one of Saudi Arabia's oldest family-owned conglomerates. 

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