Saudi prince sues magazine – it says he’s only worth $20 billion


The prince greeting his mate, Rupert Murdoch

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has sued Forbes magazine for libel in a British court, alleging its valuation of his wealth at $20 billion was short of the mark by $9.6 billion, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported…

The prince, a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder and nephew of King Abdullah, had attacked the U.S. magazine’s ranking of world billionaires as flawed and biased against Middle Eastern businesses after he was ranked number 26 in this year’s list.

An official at the High Court in London confirmed that Prince Alwaleed had filed a defamation suit against Forbes, its editor Randall Lane, and two of its journalists on April 30. Details of the claim were not immediately available.

Through his Kingdom Holding Company, Prince Alwaleed owns large stakes in Citigroup, News Corp and Apple among other companies. He is also owner or part-owner of luxury hotels including the Plaza in New York, the Savoy in London and the George V in Paris.

This year’s Forbes World Billionaires list was published on March 4, and the following day Kingdom Holding said the valuation process used “incorrect data” and “seemed designed to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions”…

Under British libel law, a claimant has only to prove that a publication was defamatory. Then the burden of proof passes to the defendant, who has several possible defenses, including that the publication was true.

FORBES ekes out a living playing kissy-kissy with the most reactionary elements on Wall Street and inside the Washington Beltway. Prince Alwaleed has a more cosmopolitan air about him than his Saudi peers – mostly because he seems to swim well in the waters of Western investing instead of relying wholly on his oil income. That still doesn’t especially modernize his politics or the culture he represents.

They deserve each other.

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