Real Estate

Saudi owner of London’s most expensive house sued over alleged unpaid private jet bills

A Saudi prince whose palatial London residence is on the market for £250mn after it was repossessed is being sued by a second lender over alleged missed payments on a private Boeing 787 jet.

An Irish subsidiary of China Minsheng Bank is claiming at least £30mn in unpaid bills and interest on the business jet leased by a Bermuda-based company in 2017 under a personal guarantee from Prince Khaled bin Sultan Al Saud, according to English court records obtained by the Financial Times. The lender is seeking to enforce the judgment against The Holme, a Regent’s Park mansion, arguing the prince is among its true beneficial owners.

The house has been put up for sale on the instructions of receivers appointed by another lender after a roughly £150mn loan secured against the property expired. The £250mn asking price would make it the most expensive residence ever sold in London if a deal is secured.

The dispute surrounding the house has provided insight into the dealings of wealthy overseas investors in high-end London property and highlighted the financial squeeze on members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family.

The lender’s claim against Prince Khaled stems from the personal guarantee he provided to lease the modified Boeing jet via Bermuda-based Dream Aircraft, according to the court documents. Yuntian 10 Designated Activity Company, a subsidiary of China Minsheng, one of the country’s largest private lenders, filed the court claim in 2020 after Dream Aircraft stopped making payments on the lease.

The finances of members of the Saudi Royal family have come under pressure from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the day-to-day ruler of the kingdom. An adviser to Saudi royals said Prince Khaled’s “financial circumstances changed massively” after Riyadh launched what it described as an anti-corruption drive in 2017. As part of this operation, some 300 princes, businessmen and others were detained in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, although Prince Khaled was not. The Holme is among his last major assets overseas, the adviser added.

A Sandhurst-trained general, Prince Khaled was deputy defence minister when Riyadh launched a military intervention against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen in 2009. He also owned the now-defunct pan-Arab daily newspaper al-Hayat.

Prince Khaled could not be reached for comment.

Court records show the lender has secured a judgment against Dream Aircraft and the prince, which was valued at more than £30mn in July 2022. Yuntian last year applied to the court to enforce the judgment against The Holme. The leasehold of the property is owned by Quendon, a Guernsey company. The case is ongoing in the High Court.

Yuntian claims Prince Khaled “intended to be the beneficial owner of the property; and one of the reasons . . . [he] acquired the property through Quendon was to conceal his ongoing beneficial ownership and control of the property”.

Quendon, in court filings, denied that Yuntian could make a claim against the value of the house and that Prince Khaled is among its beneficial owners. The company lists five of Prince Khaled’s children as beneficial owners in Companies House records.

The company said The Holme was bought through “a lawful tax efficient asset holding structure established on professional advice, and managed by professionals to ensure the future use and enjoyment of the property for [Prince Khaled] and the members of his family”.

Yuntian declined to comment. Lawyers for Quendon did not respond to a request for comment.