By Beatrice Thomas
The woman at the centre of a $20m London property fraud case allegedly worked in Dubai as a prostitute 20 years ago, a former friend has claimed.
Negat Ali, an Ethiopia-born south London furniture dealer, has previously told a London court that Sara Al Amoudi was not a Saudi princess as she has claimed but a former prostitute originally from Ethiopia and they had previously worked together in a restaurant in Yemen.
In her witness statement, obtained by Arabian Business, Ethiopian-born Ali said she became friends with Al Amoudi in Yemen between 1985 and 1989, saying her mother, a woman named Hassina, owned a restaurant in Sanaa and the family had a bad reputation.
She claimed between 1989 to 1994 Al Amoudi, said to have variously claimed to be aged 30 and 43, was based in Dubai and worked as a prostitute.
“I was travelling between Dubai and Yemen at the time and would meet up with the defendant,” she said. “I stayed in her flat in Dubai for a week in 1993 or 1994.”
She said the defendant, who has used the names Sofia, Leena as well as Sarah, also lived with her in London for most of 1999 when she had almost no money, worked at The Stork Club as a hostess and later Jaks after she had a baby that same year.
“I believe that she had both an Ethiopian and Yemeni passport at that time,” she said in the statement. “I understand that fake Yemeni passports can be purchased for $250. I have heard that the defendant told the hospital she was only visiting from Dubai and that the baby came early.”
Ali said Al Amoudi borrowed £500, which she never returned, as well as around £1,000 for her mother and family in Ethiopia.
She said while she had not seen her for several years she believed she covered up her face “to prevent her own community from recognising her”.
“She is very secretive and wears wigs to disguise her identity,” she said in the statement.
Al Amoudi claims to be the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, a Saudi businessman who was ranked the 63rd richest man in the world by Forbes in 2011 and is estimated to have a wealth of around $12.3bn.
Her real identity and alleged wealth are central to allegations by London property developers Amanda Clutterbuck and Ian Paton that she is a fraud and she convinced them to transfer six luxury London apartments worth £14m ($20.8m) into her name as part of a larger property deal they believed would be funded by the Al Amoudi family. The couple claim funds for the larger deal failed to materialise and the woman refused to return ownership of the six apartments, which are based in upmarket London areas such as Knightsbridge and Belgravia.
Al Amoudi denies the claims, claiming the flats are rightfully hers, and told the court she has a fortune of up to £10m and was addicted to shopping. Last month London’s Daily Mail published pictures of Al Amoudi at the Mayfair nightclub No 5 Cavendish with male acquaintances and other glamorous women. The court has heard allegations that as part of Al Amoudi’s alleged scam, two of the women pictured – Samera “Amani” Al-Mutawakel, 30, and 36-year-old Maha Al Mutawakel-Ramsden – were represented as her sisters and fellow Saudi princesses.
The developers claim the pair are no such thing but are, like her, prostitutes.
A High Court judge has been spending weeks considering evidence in the property case.