Ex-Pal Sues Son of Rafiq Hariri for $55 Million

     ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – The son of late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri duped a longtime confidant, a Middle Eastern telecom pioneer, of more than $55 million, the man claims in Federal Court.
     Omar Al-Bundak sued Bahaa Rafiq Hariri, alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
     He claims Hariri promised him millions of dollars after effectively getting him fired from a major Middle Eastern company, then used his expertise to set up major telecommunications operations in America and rob him of his ownership stake and refusing to pay his salary.
     Bundak claims he met Hariri through the defendant’s father, Rafiq Hariri, who twice was prime minister of Lebanon. He was assassinated by a car bomb in 2005, an incident that increased international tensions.
     Bundak claims he pioneered the Thuraya Mobile Satellite System in the United Arab Emirates, which blossomed into the region’s largest mobile telecommunications system.
     He says he later served in the prime minister’s cabinet, where he modernized the country’s postal service and telecommunications system, before being hired by Saudi Oger and Oger Telecom at the behest of its owner, Prime Minister Hariri.
     After the assassination, Bundak says, Hariri’s brother fired him, after catching wind that Bundak had counseled defendant Hariri on how to get a better buyout from the company.
     Bundak claims his advice made Bahaa Hariri nearly $1 billion more than was originally proposed for his interest, prompting Hariri to promise to take care of his settlement with the company, and to pay him $30,000 a month for personal services.
     “During the same period, defendant reiterated and restated to plaintiff on numerous occasions that plaintiff could verify with other members of the extended Hariri family three essential facts: plaintiff could always rely on defendant’s word, not even defendant’s children could change or alter complete performance by defendant of promises made to plaintiff until the children reached the age of forty years, and ‘you can take my word to the grave,'” according to the complaint.
     So, relying on Hariri’s word, Bundak says, he took a settlement for $1 and Oger Telecom shares worth $1.5 million. He says defendants Hariri promised to pay him the $3.5 million he believes he was owed, but never did.
     Bundak claims Hariri immediately enlisted his services to start up and manage Colors LLC and Oxantium LLC, a high-tech telecommunications outfit Hariri would operate out of the United States, and promised him 25 percent ownership and regular equity payments.
     After developing business plans for the companies, Bundak says, Hariri forced him to sign 20 percent of his ownership back to Hariri by promising more equity payments.
     “Defendant never made any of the promised equity payments,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff complied with defendant’s demand because he had no choice, and he relied on defendant’s promises to pay plaintiff based on his initial equity interest.”
     Then, Bundak says, Hariri stripped the companies of their capital and cut him out of management completely. He says Hariri also stopped paying his $30,000 monthly payments.
     He demands $3.5 million for his settlement with the Saudi companies, $17 million in missed monthly payments and more than $35 million for torpedoing the American ventures.
     Al-Bundak is represented by Edward Pennington, with Murphy King in Washington, D.C.

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