The couple claim the billionaire prince left them with a “huge hole” in their finances
A billionaire prince is being sued for £1.8 million by a couple who claim he left them with a “huge hole” in their finances when he pulled out of a deal to buy their London mansion.
Richard and Deborah Conway say they were left stranded on the housing ladder when Nigerian oil magnate Prince Arthur Eze withdrew from the deal on their £5 million home in Mill Hill.
They were already committed to buying a house in Cambridge and had to take out an expensive bridging loan when the deal with Prince Eze fell through, the High Court heard.
The couple claim they were forced to sell their home at a reduced price of £4.2 million, and are suing the prince to recover losses as well as “family expenses”.
However the Nigerian royal, said to be worth £2 billion, denies breach of contract and is counter-suing the couple for the return of a £500,000 deposit.
Mr Conway, 62, said he and his wife wanted to “pay off all our debts and start again” — with an eye on retirement — when they put their home up for sale for £5 million.
“It was necessary for them to obtain bridging finance to fill the huge hole left by Prince Eze’s failure to complete, and failure to pay the balance of the purchase price,” said their barrister, Matthew Collings QC.
The court heard they exchanged contracts for the nine-bedroom home in August 2015, but Prince Eze had been acting through a “go-between” and had never seen the house.
The Nigerian royal, said to be worth £2 billion, denies breach of contract
The 62-year-old prince, the founder of oil firm Atlas Oranto Petroleum, paid a 10 per cent deposit of £500,000 but now alleges the deal was void because the Conways agreed to pay the agent a “secret commission” to secure the sale.
The Conways, who deny any inappropriate conduct, said the “go-between” contacted them initially without Prince Eze’s knowledge and later raised the prospect of a “£75,000 finder’s fee”.
They claim he then “threatened to scupper the deal” unless he was paid.
Giving evidence, Prince Eze said he had “good intentions” when he agreed to buy the house, saying he wanted “a genuine investment in the UK”.
“I wasn’t concerned about the price but I was concerned about people being open,” he said.
“I thought there was something funny going on.”
The Prince rejected a suggestion he had pulled out of the deal because of a drastic drop in oil prices.
Judge Andrew Keyser QC reserved his judgement to a later date.