A federal judge today tossed the Saudi government's effort to wrest control of condos at Millennium Place, the Mandarin Oriental and One Dalton Place from the ex-anti-terrorism official it claims bought them with some of the $3.5 billion he allegedly sucked out of the royal treasury.
At the same time, though, US District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton also dismissed Saad Khalid Aljabri's request that he declare that Aljabri totally legitimately purchased condos and parking spaces in some of Boston's priciest buildings.
Gorton said there's no way he could issue a ruling in favor of either side because so much of the potential evidence in the case was effectively impounded by the US government on national-security grounds.
This includes Aljabri's supposed proof - which he had vowed to produce in court - that he bought eight condos here for legitimate reasons in his role as head of a Saudi government holding company charged with fighting terrorism rather than just as investments in a city that had become a favorite for foreign investors and visitors.
The federal government stepped into the case when it learned that Aljabri was promising or threatening to reveal details of US/Saudi terrorism work to make his case he legitimately purchased two 52nd-floor units at One Dalton, a condo at the Mandarin Oriental and five units at Millennium Place, all purchased between 2013 and 2019.
In September, Gorton agreed to the government's request to seal most of the evidence, in a ruling in which he could not even explain his legal reasoning because that would require discussing some of the sensitive - or embarrassing - information the government wanted blocked.
Aljabri contends that a full exposition of his role in that counter-terrorism work would vindicate the propriety of the alleged fraudulent transactions. Frustrating his ability to make any such showing, however, is our government’s assertion of state secrets and statutory privilege with respect to a prodigious amount of relevant evidence.
In his ruling today, Gorton rejected requests from the Saudi government that he order the condos be legally attached, with notices posted on their Suffolk County Registry of Deeds records that their ownership was being disputed in court to prevent Aljabri from trying to sell them while it continues a separate lawsuit against him in Ontario.
Gorton said the Saudi government company suing Aljabri failed to show the required "reasonable likelihood of success" in any legal proceedings to actually wrest control of the condos, and that its success so far in one Ontario appeals-court ruling was simply not enough to convince an American judge it would actually win there, let alone that a court there will yield anything that is "demonstrably recoverable" here.
Similarly, in dismissing all of the Saudis' claims, there's no reason to order the Registry of Deeds to warn any prospective buyers that ownership of the properties could suddenly change, he continued.