Bahraini royal sued in UK over Bollywood stars 'deal'
A Bahraini royal told England's High Court on Monday he was "astonished" at being sued over an alleged deal for access to top Bollywood stars.
Sheikh Hamad Isa Ali Al Khalifa is alleged to have struck a contract with Egyptian entrepreneur Ahmed Adel Abdallah Ahmed to pay for meetings with 26 top actors from the Indian film industry.
The deal was allegedly worth £35 million ($45 million, 39 million euros) and Ahmed is suing the royal for £16 million he claims he is owed in fees and costs.
Sheikh Hamad said he has a "lifelong passion" for Bollywood cinema and wanted to meet stars including Shah Rukh Khan, Ranveer Singh and Aishwarya Rai.
In his witness statement, the royal said he paid Ahmed about £2.7 million for meetings with Bollywood idols, but only because he "wanted to please him", rather than due to any contractual obligations.
"When I learned of the claims that Mr Ahmed was making against me in these proceedings, I was astonished," he said.
"I was grateful to (Mr Ahmed) for helping me to meet four top Bollywood artists.
"I expressed my gratitude frequently by words and my gestures: in total, he received around £2.7 million from me in relation to these meetings.
"I considered this sum was comfortably in excess of the amount that he had incurred in costs and expenses, including in fees for the Bollywood artists.
"I do not think that this gives him licence to demand vast sums of money to which he is not entitled."
Ahmed claims that, during a phone conversation when Sheikh Hamad was in London in January 2016, the pair made an "oral agreement" that he would be paid more than £1 million for each meeting, plus a bonus of more than £350,000 after every third meeting.
Sheikh Hamad contends the alleged arrangement is "entirely fictitious".
The hearings continue at the High Court in London.