Fish and chip entrepreneur sues Saudi royals in row over unpaid debts

Charles Hymas
·3-min read
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A British entrepreneur who introduced fish and chips to the Middle East is taking Saudi royal family members to the High Court over their failure to honour a deal that has left him facing jail for debts.

Gary Arnold, 50, was arrested in Dubai this week over unpaid debts which he blames on the failure of the Saudi royals to keep their part of a legally-binding deal to buy out his business which he grew to 36 branches across Saudi Arabia, UAE and the Middle East.

His lawyer, Toby Cadman, told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Arnold faced eight charges for unpaid debts from creditors to the company including one that carries a maximum two year jail sentence.

He said he would be urgently filing an application in the high court in London to have a judgement in Mr Arnold’s favour in Saudi Arabia applied in the UK in a bid to put pressure on the royals to pay the money they owe the businessman.

“It is going to cost Mr Arnold and his business partner tens of thousands of pounds, all of which has been caused by the Saudis,” said Mr Cadman,  co-founder of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers.

The dispute has left Mr Arnold, who is based in Dubai, facing financial ruin and separated from his family in the UK after the confiscation of his passport. He is currently being held in a police cell without access to his phone.

Mr Arnold and his lawyers said he and his business partners have not received the money agreed in 2017 as part of the merger and acquisition of their firm, London Business Group, by the Saudis’ family company, Harbor Holdings-Himmah Foods.

They said the company breached a legally-binding agreement to buy out their share of the multi-million pound business they founded and to fund its expansion in Saudi Arabia and the UAE even though the deal was ratified with a due diligence report by accountants PWC.

A court in Saudi subsequently found in Mr Arnold’s favour and ordered the company to pay him 5,087,500 riyals (£1,032,435) under the terms of the original deal.

The move has pitted him and his partners against a high-profile family of Saudi royals, central to which is Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the current chairman of Harbor Holdings.

Two other royals are linked to the company but deny any involvement in the fish and chip deal. They are its ex-chairman Prince Khalid bin Bandar al Saud, Saudi ambassador to London, and its co-founder Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud, Saudi ambassador to Washington.

Mr Cadman has told all three royals of the impending legal action. He said: “London Business Group was a very successful business that the Saudi Arabian royals’ company has destroyed through negligence or incompetence. I am on the verge of filing applications in the high court to recognise decisions in favour of the group from Saudi Arabia.”.

Mr Arnold previously told The Telegraph: “These are high profile individuals who seem to be under the impression that they can dump their responsibilities and ignore our exposure. I have been shouldering their liabilities for the last three years.”

Justin Madders, Mr Arnold's MP, said he would be raising his case immediately with Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary. "It is worrying and I will be contacting Dominic Raab to establish what action the Foreign Office can take," he said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Our staff are supporting a British man in the UAE and have been in contact with his legal representatives."

Prince Faisal has been contacted for comment but had not responded by last night. 

Prince Khalid’s spokesman said he had “never to his knowledge met or had any dealings” with Mr Arnold or business partners and had not had any executive role in the company. In his role as ambassador to the UK, the Prince did not take an active role in business or investment affairs,” he added.