Sheffield United bankers sought explanation over Bin Laden money link, court hears
Sheffield United's bankers asked for an explanation following reports that the club was linked to money from a Saudi businessman related to Osama bin Laden, a High Court judge has heard.
Mr Justice Fancourt, who is overseeing a dispute between the co-owners, was told how Santander had contacted the club in the wake of reports about a link to money from the bin Laden family.
A lawyer told him how Santander “wanted an explanation”.
Co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud have fallen out after starting to work together six years ago.
Mr Justice Fancourt is analysing their fight for control of the newly-promoted Premier League club, whose nickname is The Blades, at a High Court trial in London.
Sheffield United Ltd, a company controlled by Mr McCabe and his family, has alleged “conspiracy” and “unfairly prejudicial conduct”, and wants damages.
UTB LLC, a company controlled by Prince Abdullah, wants declarations in respect of its rights under an investment and shareholders’ agreement.
Prince Abdullah says the person behind a £3 million loan was Saleh Mohammed bin Laden.
He says Mr McCabe and his associates knew that, and says the name was mentioned at a meeting in Dubai in 2017.
Mr McCabe disputes Prince Abdullah’s claims.
He says the money was a “bribe” given to Prince Abdullah by a different businessman.
Detail of claims and counter claims about the bin Laden link emerged during the trial last week.
Barrister Paul Downes QC, who leads Sheffield United Ltd’s legal team, told the judge how Santander had been in touch as he questioned Prince Abdullah’s lawyer and adviser Yusuf Giansiracusa.
He said Mr Giansiracusa, who is a director, had drafted an email reply.
“This loan had been discharged,” Mr Giansiracusa told the judge. “I didn’t think there was anything in that issue.”
Mr Downes asked whether Saleh Mohammed bin Laden had wanted his connection concealed.
“Yeah, I know that now,” Mr Giansiracusa said. “It’s not surprising.”
Mr Downes said Mr McCabe’s motivation for putting “substantial” sums of money into Sheffield United was “love” and “passion”.
Mr Giansiracusa told the judge that he had “basically a layman’s knowledge” of football in the UK when he became involved at Sheffield United. He added: “I don’t know if I know anyone as passionate about sport as Prince Abdullah.”
The hearing continues.