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France pursues Saudi princess over €6m bill

Dan MacGuill · 7 Mar 2013, 15:00

Published: 07 Mar 2013 08:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Mar 2013 15:00 GMT+01:00

A judge in Nanterre, near Paris, on Wednesday ordered the seizure of three storage units owned by Maha Al-Sudairi, so that their lavish contents can be sold to pay the staggering €1 million-a-month bill the Saudi princess left behind on her last trip to Paris, French daily Le Parisien reported.

Al-Sudairi, the former wife of the late Saudi crown prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, checked into the ‘palace’ hotel Le Shangri-La in Paris in December 2011, with her 60 attendants and assistants.

By the time she left, in June 2012, Al-Sudairi had managed to rack up the barely believable total of €6 million in unpaid bills for expensive meals, jewelry, and a luxury limo service.

The princess started by renting out the entire seventh floor of the Shangri-La in the exclusive 16th arrondissement of Paris, for her personal entourage, and hired the luxury services company 'Cinquieme Etoile' ('Fifth Star') to take care of their daily meals, provide chauffeur-driven cars and a security detail, and take care of Al-Sudairi's dirty linens.

“Every day we had about 30 cars at the ready for her and those who accompanied her,” the director of Cinquieme Etoile was quoted as saying in French daily Le Parisien. “We are still awaiting payment,” added the company's boss.

That payment was estimated to amount to €1.5 million.

The day after her husband's death on June 16th, 2012, Al-Sudairi and her people attempted an audacious night flight, but were caught by staff loading limos with luggage outside the hotel.

As a member of the Saudi royal family, Al-Sudairi – who has since returned to Saudi Arabia – is protected against prosecution by her diplomatic immunity.

However, the court in Nanterre on Wednesday agreed that the contents of three lock-ups in the French capital be seized, and put towards paying the bill for Cinquieme Etoile, along with five other companies.

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Authorities are hoping there will be enough to cover the bill, with the boxes believed to contain luxury leather goods, artworks, jewelery, and clothing with an estimated worth of €10-12 million.

However, the director of Cinquieme Etoile is not holding his breath. “As far the process of getting paid goes – it's going to be long, very long,” he was quoted as saying in Le Parisien.

“We'll have to take international legal action, before the items are appraised, and then sold at auction,” said the company's director.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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