Nigerian Billionaire Prince Arthur Eze is being sued by a british couple who claim they were left stranded when he pulled out of buying their home.
Richard and Deborah Conway say they faced a massive ‘funding hole’ when the oil magnate withdrew from purchasing their £5 million house and are now suing him for £1.8 million.
They had planned to relocate from London to Cambridge, and were committed to buying a new home there, London’s High Court heard. But Prince Eze’s failure to complete the purchase of their Mill Hill mansion forced them to take out an expensive bridging loan.
And they eventually had no choice but to sell their home in Uphill Road at a reduced price of £4.2 million, Judge Andrew Keyser QC was told.
Nigerian royal, Prince Eze, reportedly worth £2 billion, is now being sued by the couple to recover their losses and ‘family expenses’. But he denies breach of contract and is counter-suing the couple for return of his £500,000 deposit. Approaching retirement, Mr Conway said he and his wife wanted to ‘pay off all our debts and start again’ and had a target selling price of £5 million.
The Conways and the Nigerian royal exchanged contracts in August 2015 after a ‘go-between’ told the prince about the nine-bedroom property in leafy north London. Prince Eze, who never saw the house before making an offer, paid the couple a 10 percent deposit – £500,000 – added the barrister.
The 62-year-old is the founder of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, an oil exploration company with extensive holdings throughout West Africa. He is well known as a philanthropist and has a fleet of Rolls Royces and a private jet.
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The prince’s legal team claim the sale contract is ‘void’ because the Conways agreed to pay the go-between a ‘secret commission’ to secure the deal. But the Conways deny any inappropriate conduct. Mr Collings said the go-between initially contacted them without Prince Eze’s knowledge, and later ‘raised the issue of the Conways paying his £75,000 finder’s fee’. ‘Otherwise he threatened to scupper the deal,’ added Mr Conway, also 62, who now lives in Great Shelford, Cambs.
From the witness box, Prince Eze said he had wanted ‘a genuine investment in the UK’.
‘I wasn’t concerned about the price but I was concerned about people being open,’ he told the judge. The prince rejected suggestions by Mr Collings that a ‘drastic fall in oil prices’ prompted his decision to pull out of the deal. He had ‘good intentions’ to buy the house, he told the court, but was concerned he was not receiving ‘proper information about what was going on’. ‘I thought there was something funny going on,’ said Prince Eze.
Judge Keyser has now reserved his ruling in the case and will give his decision at a later date.