Saudi govt to settle dues with private sector companies before year-end

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, chairs a meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 08 November 2016

Saudi govt to settle dues with private sector companies before year-end

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will pay by next month the money it owes private companies, a committee headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Monday.
“The council came up with a package of solutions and procedures to settle the dues that met the requirements of spending,” SPA reported after a regular meeting of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.
Solutions “will be implemented immediately and completed before December 2016,” it said, in a discussion of the delayed payments.
The council discussed “the necessary procedures to pay the amounts owed to the private sector from the public treasury,” SPA said.
“The payment was late due to the sharp decline in oil revenue and the measures taken by the Kingdom to reduce spending on a number of projects.”
SPA added that priorities were rearranged according “to impact and efficiency,” but there had been “obstacles to implement the procedures.”
The arrears have left foreign workers, chiefly in the construction sector, struggling for months while they await back wages, AFP reported.
In April, the deputy crown prince announced a wide-ranging plan for economic diversification and social change in the coming years.
Saudi Arabia has taken a series of measures, including subsidy cuts, reductions in Cabinet ministers’ salaries and delays in major projects.
According to SPA, billions of riyals have been saved by rescheduling and modifying contracts, while “a large number” of projects were stopped, saving tens of billions more.
Early last month Saudi Binladin Group said the government had transferred some payment in the previous two weeks, allowing it to cover some back wages to its remaining staff.
The company had already finished payments to around 70,000 laid-off workers.

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 11 min 32 sec ago

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 

The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.

The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 


READ MORE: 45 Moments that changed the Middle East - The bombing of Khobar Towers


The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.

“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.