They had made billions of dollars by investing in real estate; by bottling and distributing Pepsi; and by selling steel piping to Saudi Aramco, the national oil-and-natural-gas behemoth. According to an affidavit later filed by Iossifidis, in New York, Stewart “emphasized that he spoke for both T. Litigation has taken place in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other jurisdictions. The defense called two women from the Gosaibi family for deposition. may well have been undertaken with either the express or implied knowledge and authority of the Partners.” The Gosaibis dropped their case.
As Stewart later wrote in a self-published memoir, “A Gentleman and a Player,” he loved being among foreigners: “I could tell they were bemused by my brashness, never having met a Yank up close before.” After a year at the grammar school, he reluctantly followed his family back home, received his diploma, and completed a couple of semesters at the University of Maryland. was also indebted to sixty-two other banks, and couldn’t afford to pay them back, either. In the Gulf, Ali said, it was widely known that the Gosaibis needed aluminum in connection with their Pepsi-canning operation, and T. More recently, he had worked with international liquidators to recover assets from Bernard Madoff’s gigantic financial fraud, which had amounted to a loss of seventeen billion dollars. C.’s collapse were even bigger: together, the Gosaibis and Sanea owed twenty-two billion dollars. failed.) In the complaint, Lewis called Stewart a “primary co-conspirator and accomplice of al-Sanea” in perpetrating a multibillion-dollar “Ponzi scheme.” (Sanea denies that any Ponzi scheme took place.) Stewart, Lewis went on, had “devised and agreed to participate in an unlawful scheme whereby T. Unravelling a conspiracy often takes more than finding memos or scouring a hard drive. According to the bank’s records, these individuals had collectively borrowed more than a hundred and ten million dollars. In 2012, the Forensic Institute of Zurich examined two of Suleiman al-Gosaibi’s signatures on a separate document. He had gained weight in recent years, and, with his slightly pocked complexion, cinder-block jaw, and bulbous nose, he called to mind a retired Soviet bodybuilder. had left no doubt that the loan book had been “created and operated” by “fraudulent means.” After twenty-seven years in the Gulf, Stewart was ready to settle back into American life.
America bored him, however, and he sought his fortunes abroad. The same day that Stewart met with Iossifidis, Tariq Ali, an American-educated banker with substantial experience in debt restructuring, met in Khobar with Jamal al-Muzein, a lawyer representing Sanea. Lewis noted to me that the losses associated with T. Lewis began preparing litigation, and he eventually filed a complaint in California, because Stewart owned property there. It can require an insider to decode the jottings in a margin or the oblique references in an e-mail. using the loan book to attract funding, and how most of the money flowed into Sanea’s accounts. I had no idea at all about these documents.” When I asked him how his personal information might have been obtained, he said that he didn’t know. If I had twelve million dollars, you will see me right now driving a Ferrari in Beverly Hills! They all told me that they had never sought or received any loan from T. It determined that a “slow and unspontaneous” hand had produced the signatures, and concluded “with a probability bordering on certainty” that they were forgeries. He gave me a tour, pointing out Qashqai rugs from Iran and a framed concert poster from a 1970 Grand Funk Railroad show. into a Gosaibi-owned account—making, Mutawi argued, the family legally responsible for the bank’s debt. He tried to develop television projects, including a reality show about Mississippi riverboat pilots, and an adaptation of a Swedish game show.
Where others saw a crisis, he glimpsed opportunity. exam and worked briefly as an accountant in San Francisco, where he dated a colleague, Donna Gannon. The Gosaibis, who had learned of the bank’s endangered status, echoed these assurances to Mashreq. Ali told me that Saud appeared not to realize that the family owed billions: “You could see it in his body language—he was aware that something had happened but didn’t know exactly what.” Ali then went to Bahrain to meet with Stewart, whom he found “brash and dismissive.” Stewart told him that he had recently been called in to discuss T. He denied ever applying for such a loan, or receiving such a loan, adding that he had never heard of T. “I’m consciously modelling this on Boswell,” he said. But, about nine months after Stewart returned to America, Eric Lewis, the attorney representing the Gosaibis, filed the lawsuit against him in California, alleging more than nine billion dollars in damages—the amount that Sanea, with Stewart’s assistance, was said to have misappropriated from . In several dozen other court proceedings, judges have rejected the Gosaibis’ claim that they are not liable for the debts because their in-law stole from them. Sanea’s lawyers say that “’s allegations have been given no credence by any of at least sixty-three courts or tribunals worldwide.” Stewart cited such proceedings as proof that he had committed no crime. The Money Exchange’s audit reports, a lawyer for one of the five banks said, “weren’t worth the paper they were written on.” Last spring, Trowers & Hamlins, a law firm assigned by the Bahraini government to take administrative control of T. Robert Ainey, the head of the banking association, recognized Stewart, hurried to check the guest list, and confirmed that Stewart was crashing the party. “I wanted to assert my rights as a free man, not one of their semi-slaves,” he told me. ” When the bankers’ association hosted its reception in Washington the next year, Ainey distributed photographs of Stewart to the hotel’s security guards and authorized them to block him from entering.
He began intensive study of Arabic and Islamic history. He fantasized about a life in the theatre, but, as he told me not long ago, he decided that “the best thing to do was to go and try to make money first.” He passed the C. They married, and in 1983 they moved to Saudi Arabia after he took a job in Khobar, a drab city on the Gulf coast which anchors the country’s oil industry. Stewart promised to return the money, in Saudi riyals, a week later. During our conversation, Stewart characterized the allegations against him as “slanderous shit.” The Gosaibis “knew everything” Sanea was doing, he claimed—and, even if they didn’t, the responsibility was theirs, since they had given Sanea power of attorney: “They defaulted on their loans, and then they adopted this perjurious strategy to blame the whole thing on Maan.” Stewart called Lewis a “paid whore” of the Gosaibis. The Gosaibis were either not telling the truth or exaggerating their ignorance of T. Although a court in Bahrain has supported the Gosaibis’ contention that T. Meanwhile, preparations for the California case against Stewart moved ahead.
Audi told me that Stewart had seemed unusually attuned to other cultures. After a preliminary review of the documentation, Ali determined that the debt was likely much greater—between five and six billion. They just don’t understand it.” In legal filings, Sanea has called Deloitte’s investigation “defective” and “its reporting misleading.”) To vet T. He went to the alleged address of a Saudi contractor who traded in agricultural goods and had purportedly received a nineteen-million-dollar loan; Asante discovered a low-income housing project. Stewart pulled “From Here to Eternity” off the shelf and declared, “I rate this as the second-best work of American literature, after ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ ” Sitting at his desk, Stewart said that he was now pursuing literary projects. and recover lost assets, filed a .9-billion lawsuit against was T. A crew member told me that Stewart “made it clear he was pumping money into the show.” But the director accused Stewart of micromanaging rehearsals, and they fell out. A reviewer from applauded the show’s pleasant music, even if the songs were “draped around an unconvincing noir potboiler from book writer Glenn M.
The tumult in the Middle East—the Yom Kippur War, the oil embargo—made a strong impression on Stewart. The next day, Stewart met again with Iossifidis and assured him that the Gosaibis would repay the debt in full. He asked Muzein to arrange for him to meet with Saud al-Gosaibi, Sanea’s brother-in-law. Along the way, Muzein urged Ali not to mention his six-billion-dollar estimate to Saud, who was “in deep shock” about the crisis; hearing such a figure “might be too much for him.” The request made Ali uneasy, but he complied and told Saud simply that the Gosaibis owed a lot of money because of unchecked name-lending. C.’s default with regulators from the central bank of Bahrain, and that he had proposed resolving the matter by merging T. At the supposed address of a trader in “cooked and uncooked foodstuffs” who had taken out an eighteen-million-dollar loan, Asante found a bariatric surgeon named Sultan al-Temyatt. From August, 2004, through August, 2009, he worked at Sanea’s hospital in Khobar. “I write reasonably well,” he said, despairing that most residents of Los Angeles were “semiliterate.” (He expressed similar condescension toward Arabs, describing them as “basically turbulent, ill-disciplined people.”) Stewart had recently completed a second volume of his memoirs, “An American Youth.” More volumes were forthcoming. does not have an extradition treaty with Bahrain, so ’s charges did not follow Stewart home. (Billions of dollars generated by the loan book flowed through a Bank of America account belonging to the Gosaibis.) The Gosaibis, seeing their line of defense collapse, withdrew from the case, and the judge ordered them to pay two hundred and fifty million dollars in liabilities. documents contained forgeries of Suleiman’s signatures, other courts have not. case, where the bank plaintiffs and the Gosaibis differed on matters of knowledge and responsibility, no one defended the integrity of the loans that had been made. Stewart.” Shortly after Stewart returned to California, he learned that Bahraini officials were planning to attend a reception, hosted by the Bahrain Association of Banks, at the Mandarin Oriental, in Washington, D. On the night of the event, in October, 2010, Stewart entered the ballroom at the Mandarin “bold as brass, like I belonged there.” He took a drink from a passing tray and made his way toward Rasheed Mohammad Al Maraj, the governor of Bahrain’s central bank. Maraj looked at him scornfully and replied, “I don’t want to talk to you.” The confrontation, though brief, satisfied Stewart, and he left proudly.
When Glenn Stewart enrolled at the University of Oxford, in 1975, he was not a typical first-year student: a twenty-year-old American with mediocre grades, he had taken neither A-level exams nor Oxford’s entrance test. As far as Ali could tell from the bank’s documentation, only one loan—to a relative of Sanea’s in Kuwait—had not been repaid. What was the son of Sanea’s public-affairs manager doing with twenty million dollars’ worth of loans for agricultural equipment? C.’s loan-customer list, saying, “I don’t know anything about this.”) Ali eventually told Saud that his family might owe as much as eight billion dollars. In July, 2009, he retained Eric Lewis, an attorney based in Washington, D. The Ernst & Young team members spent several weeks at T. He asked unsophisticated questions, and I knew that we were fucked. (He declined to provide the names of anyone on the boat who could corroborate his account.) The boat sped off, skirting the Saudi and Kuwaiti coasts, and two days later, Stewart said, they arrived at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr. The next morning, Stewart flew from Basra to Amman, proceeded to London, and, a week later, arrived in Los Angeles.
An enterprising kid, he made money on weekends by selling soda in the bleachers at college football games. C.’s business activities eluded Ali, he came away feeling that the bank had taken advantage of the Gosaibis’ reputation. Stewart made particular use of his expertise in transactions. repeatedly “did these Islamic-banking transactions where you buy and sell aluminum.” Ali added, “They really needed liquidity.” Ali was startled by the T. Lewis, who has written about legal affairs for this magazine’s Web site, knew the terrain well. purported to engage in lending to phony ‘loan customers’ as a means to filter funds to the Money Exchange where they were channeled into the operational costs of the fraud and/or into al-Sanea’s pockets.” The complaint also alleged that Stewart had “misappropriated” a hundred million dollars for himself. One man worriedly asked me if this meant that authorities would attempt to collect the imaginary debt. “You have a problem with the Ministry of Justice,” the official told him. Waxman’s office refused to extend assistance, however, referring to a letter from the U. Embassy in Bahrain that stated (incorrectly) that Stewart had been charged with money laundering and (correctly) that he was “not free to leave Bahrain.” Stewart, panicked, began looking for another way off the island. They agreed to terms, and late one night in May, 2010, Stewart says, he left his Manama apartment for the last time, carrying a backpack containing clothes, a phone, cash, and his passport. He was sharing a loft space—brushed-concrete floors, exposed ductwork—with a movie-financing company.
After Stewart’s junior year in high school, his father went to England on sabbatical and took the family along. Ali asked Stewart who sat on the executive committee. (Stewart has since claimed that he was not being secretive, only careful, because he didn’t know whose interests Ali was representing.) Though a full picture of T. “They were a pristine name,” Ali told me, adding, “That was what was exploited.” A key way that Stewart facilitated the operation, Ali claimed, was by helping T. They involve inflating the cost of an item in order to sidestep variable interest rates, which are forbidden by Sharia law. In the nineteen-nineties, he had represented creditors who lost money after the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which, among other misdeeds, had laundered money for the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Lewis collaborated with a forensic-accounting team from Deloitte, which had been hired by the Gosaibis to examine the records at the Money Exchange. Deloitte’s investigation also turned up seeming irregularities in documents that featured signatures from Saud’s uncle Suleiman al-Gosaibi. As the document suggested that he had approved a transaction on the same day that, according to his medical records, he was unconscious in a Zurich hospital. Only then did Stewart learn that Bahrain’s top prosecutor, Nawaf Hamza, had imposed a travel ban on him, at the behest of the central bank of Bahrain, in connection with an ongoing investigation into T. “I tried to work legally within the system, but there is no system,” he told me. He told me that he met two Americans—one of them the former C. Stewart wore a gray polo shirt tucked into cream-colored slacks, and dark Top-Siders.
His thesis explored Byzantine-Hamdanid relations in the tenth century and the evolution of the Christian concept of holy war. After two years, he and Donna moved twenty miles east of Khobar, to the island kingdom of Bahrain. In Bahrain, most Westerners lived in gated compounds, but Stewart and his family rented an apartment in a predominantly Arab neighborhood. C.’s major creditors, Mashreq Bank, which is based in the Emirates. The riyals came due on May 5th, but instead of paying back the money Stewart asked for seventy-five million dollars more, this time expressly for T. “To put it coarsely, what the al-Gosaibis and Eric Lewis have done is the equivalent of going to the police and saying, ‘I saw Glenn Stewart sodomizing a ten-year-old boy in the lavatory,’ ” he told me. In 2013, both sides began sharing discovery materials and preparing to depose witnesses.
While Audi was trying to “run away from the Middle East,” he told me, Stewart was charging toward it. He wanted to pursue a career in intelligence, but the C. Compared with Saudi Arabia, he told me, Bahrain was freewheeling—“really open, with bars in hotels and restaurants.” In 1989, Stewart got a job with a wealthy Saudi family from Khobar, the Gosaibis. Stewart flew to Dubai in April and pleaded his case to one of T. He asked John Iossifidis, a top Mashreq executive, to temporarily extend its lending limits. “It’s going to cost me a lot of money, a lot of pain, I will be investigated, and it’s going to take some time before it’s proven that they’re liars and that they’ve done this solely for vindictive reasons.” The Gosaibis’ feud with Sanea has been going on for nearly six years. In court, however, documents emerged that indicated at least some family awareness of his rampant borrowing—including letters from Saud al-Gosaibi to Sanea, and audit reports making references to T. In a counter-complaint, Stewart’s lawyers said that “will certainly not be able to prove that Stewart acted without authority.” They denied that Stewart “directed or supervised any ‘scheme,’ ” and further argued that Stewart’s “belief in Al Sanea’s authority was reasonable and justified,” because “multiple reliable sources” had assured him that Sanea had power of attorney.
At Oxford, Stewart, who was tall and lean, with long brown hair, exuded what one classmate called a “sense of adventure.” He joined a clique of theatre enthusiasts who included Rowan Atkinson, of “Mr. Muzein, who had initiated the meeting, told Ali that the Money Exchange had defaulted on sizable foreign-exchange deals and that the Gosaibis wanted him to help quickly set things right. Ali asked Stewart who had given him the authority to negotiate with the central bank on behalf of the Gosaibis. (Stewart’s wife, along with their younger son, had moved into the Pacific Palisades house shortly after T. In June, 2009, Mark Hayley, the Money Exchange’s former general manager, was one of several employees who decided to coöperate with the investigation. Stewart, Hayley said, had kept the operation running at Sanea’s behest. He noted, “The hospital, they have all the information of the staff.” (No evidence has emerged to suggest that any hospital personnel were involved in releasing such data, and the hospital insists that it did not do so.) Another former hospital employee whose name ended up in the loan book is a cousin of Sanea’s named Maan al-Dughaiter. ” Recently, I began calling, at random, other people whose names appeared in T. “I have a wide-ranging, eclectic set of tastes,” he said. One contained the complete works of Shakespeare (“I’ve read almost all of them”), Conrad, and Charlotte Brontë. Nevertheless, Mutawi declared that a “painstaking forensic analysis” of T. He earned credit as an executive producer on “Nothing Left to Fear,” a film whose main backer was Slash, the former guitarist of Guns N’ Roses.Bean,” and Pierre Audi, a student from Lebanon, who now directs the Dutch National Opera. defaulted on the deal, and , as the owner of the bank, now owed Mashreq a quarter of a billion dollars. Muzein estimated the debt to be somewhere between a billion and two and a half billion dollars. According to the Deloitte team, Hayley described how Stewart borrowed money at T. William Asante, the project manager of Deloitte’s team, told me that “Glenn definitely played a key role.” (Stewart said, “I’m shocked at how shabby a job Deloitte has done on all of this. C.’s loan book, Asante printed out the addresses of several supposed customers and drove around Khobar. He said of the loan applications showing his name and signature, “I never signed them. He is a small-business owner, and in 2006 he supposedly took out a twelve-million-dollar loan. The other held facsimile first editions of American classics. C.’s biggest debtor, and that billions of dollars had moved from T. (According to the Web site Box Office Mojo, the film grossed less than eight thousand dollars domestically.) Stewart became a partner in a natural-gas exploration venture in Pennsylvania, and bought a hundred and ten single-family homes in Detroit, which are being renovated for resale. He produced a new version of “The City Club,” his musical, at the Minetta Lane Theatre, in Greenwich Village.