US judge blocks Bandar funds transfer

WASHINGTON – A federal judge has temporarily blocked Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, from removing real estate sales proceeds from the United States pending resolution of a class-action lawsuit.The suit filed last September by a tiny Michigan city retirement system accuses current and former directors of BAE Systems PLC, a giant British defense company, of breaches of fiduciary duties in connection with $2 billion or more in alleged illegal bribes paid to Bandar in connection with an $86 billion BAE arms sale to Saudi Arabia in 1985.

Bandar also is named a defendant in the suit, along with the former Riggs Bank of Washington and its successor, PNC Financial Group.

BAE and Bandar have strongly denied that illegal payments were made to Bandar.

Without ruling on the merits of the case, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said in a temporary restraining order, signed Feb. 5, that the suit by the City of Harper Woods Employees’ Retirement System raises serious questions of law that warrant a temporary order keeping Bandar from taking the proceeds of real estate sales out of U.S.-based accounts.

The order directs that such sales proceeds “be deposited and/or invested pursuant to a prudent man standard” in U.S. accounts, but specifically notes that it “does not prevent him from selling real property” and “only interferes with his ability to invest and/or deposit any sales proceeds in a minimal way.”

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