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U.S. judge dismisses Brunei prince's lawsuit against British advisers

A federal judge in New York has dismissed a Brunei prince's lawsuit against Britain-based husband-and-wife legal advisers that the prince claims conned him and his companies out of millions of dollars.

In an opinion Friday, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan dismissed a federal racketeering claim against Faith Zaman and Thomas William Derbyshire brought by Prince Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Paduka Seri Pengiran Digadong Sahibul Mal Pengiran Muda Haji Jefri Bolkiah and a group of companies, of which he is beneficial owner.

The judge also denied a request by Prince Jefri to file an amended complaint in the matter.

Shortly after Judge Kaplan issued his ruling, Prince Jefri's lawyers filed a lawsuit against the couple in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, said Mark A. Cymrot, the couple's lawyer.

"(Judge Kaplan's decision) confirms that the Derbyshires are not racketeers," Cymrot said Monday. "It reduces the dispute to a normal commercial dispute, for which we think there's no merit."

Brian Socolow, a lawyer for Prince Jefri, said Monday that they disagree with Judge Kaplan's findings in the federal case and are "examining our options." He said the prince has separately filed a lawsuit in New York state court asserting the same state law claims as the prior federal lawsuit.

In his lawsuit, Prince Jefri had alleged the couple, who began acting as his legal advisers in 2004, breached their fiduciary duties through a series of fraudulent real-estate transactions in the United States and misuse of corporate credit cards.

The complaint had sought the set-aside of the real-estate transactions, damages and the return of millions of dollars in legal fees.

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