Canadian court rejects ex-Saudi spy’s bid to release his assets

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TORONTO — A former top intelligence agent who alleges Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler sent a hit squad to Canada to kill him has lost a bid to have his assets released.

In a ruling released Thursday, an Ontario Superior Court judge found Saad Aljabri had failed to show he was unfairly treated earlier when the court froze his assets after a secret hearing.

“I find that Dr. Saad has not proven any non-disclosure that is objectively and sufficiently material to displace the current … orders as they relate to him,” Justice Cory Gilmore ruled.

Aljabri, who spent decades in Saudi intelligence and now lives in Toronto, was unable to access his assets after a group of Saudi Arabian companies — they allege he embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars — applied for a so-called Mareva injunction in January. Saad was not at that hearing.

In a bid to fight the injunction, Aljabri’s lawyers argued before Gilmore last month that the plaintiffs had not previously given the court all the relevant facts.

Those facts, the lawyers told Gilmore, include Aljabri’s civil lawsuit in the U.S. in which he alleges a long-standing and ongoing plot by Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman to kill him.

Gilmore, however, disagreed. Reports of Aljabri’s “political persecution” were referred to in both written and oral submissions at the January hearing. Bin Salman’s palace coup in 2017 and his subsequent actions have also been widely reported, the judge said.

“The U.S. complaint was adverted to at the ex parte hearing, as well as allegations that Dr. Saad had been the subject of political persecution, that there had been an attempt on his life, and that his children Sarah and Omar were detained in (Saudi Arabia),” Gilmore said.

Aljabri also argued the plaintiffs had misled the court by saying he had fled Saudi Arabia for Turkey to avoid investigation of his allegedly fraudulent activities, while he said it was because he feared for his safety.

“Both statements are true,” Gilmore said in his ruling. “If Dr. Saad had returned to (Saudi Arabia) when he was in Turkey, he would certainly have become the subject of investigation by MBS and his government.”

Gilmore cited evidence that Aljabri received large amounts of money after he was asked to leave his position in Saudi Arabia.

“This is a case about an alleged fraud perpetrated by Dr. Saad while he was working in the KSA up to 2015 — and an allegation of funds continuing to be funnelled to him and others until 2017,” Gilmore said.

“The affidavits of Dr. Aljabri do not adequately explain any of the alleged fraudulent activities.”

Gilmore said the injunction would continue until a judge decided to change it.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press