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Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf to pay compensation to personal assistant

A BMW, a thermal night vision kit for a Hummer, ivory tusks and two karaoke machines.

A British court has released details on the expenses of Saudi Ambassador Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf and ordered him to pay 3.1 million pounds (US$6.3 million, 4.3 million EUR) to reimburse a personal assistant who says he bought hundreds of items on the Saudi royal's behalf. The ruling came to light this week following reports in Britain's Guardian and Daily Telegraph newspapers.

The ruling contains a 13-page list of items that Walid El Hage claims he purchased or procured in 2004-2005 while working as a personal assistant to bin Nawaf, who was then serving as the Saudi ambassador to Italy.

The court case was filed in Britain because the prince became the Saudi ambassador to Britain and Ireland in 2006. El Hage also is a British citizen, according to his lawyer, Ian Bloom.

"If you ignore this order your goods may be removed and sold, or other enforcement proceeding may be taken against you," the High Court said in its Oct. 29 ruling.

Bin Nawaf did not respond to El Hage's court claim, but issued a statement Friday saying El Hage's complaint "is a personal matter and not a government matter."

"We are currently in negotiations, and we expect the matter to be settled amicably very shortly," the statement said.

El Hage said in his complaint that he had served as a personal assistant to the ambassador and to his father, Prince Nawaf Al Saud, since 1979. Most of that time, the bills were paid, El Hage said in his complaint.

But El Hage said the ambassador failed to pay him for the bills he had submitted between Jan. 10, 2004, and July 21, 2005.

In addition to airline and hotel bills, the court lists dozens of designer watches, including ones by Cartier, Patek Philippe and Jaeger Le Coultres purchased for tens of thousands of pounds.

Other items included jewels, Persian rugs, cameras, swords and antique weapons, as well as a fully equipped Chevrolet Avalanche pickup truck.

One expense dating to spring of 2004, is described as "girls: party night 5," and it cost 2,500 pounds (US$5,115, 3,500 EUR), the ruling said. It was not clear where the party took place.

Under British law, it is up to the court to decide if the ambassador is entitled to diplomatic immunity, the Foreign Office said. But the brief High Court decision did not address that issue.

Ambassador bin Nawaf is a nephew of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

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