Brunei Royal Family Members’ company Smart Plus Investment Holdings is placed in liquidation by BVI High Court

The story of a lawsuit in the BVI High Court that started last year has just received its continuation. In 2005 the company CBTL Holdings, that belongs to Mark Burby, a UK Jersey-based entrepreneur, filed an action against Smart Plus Investment Holdings, an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Directors and shareholders of the BVI company were Pengiran Ayub, a cousin of the Sultan of Brunei, and Pengiran Damit, the Sultan’s sister-in-law, as well as their business agent, Alice Koo. The cause of action was their reneging on the coffee shop deal.

The decision of the BVI High Court was in favour of CBTL Holdings; the court assessed damages at £46.9 million plus costs. Now it seems that the BVI company, belonging to the Sultan’s family members and their agent, failed to comply with the BVI court order. Smart Plus Investment Holdings is placed in liquidation. Now the liquidator appointed by the BVI court is investigating personal assets of company’s directors, with the intention to seize them.

Mr. Burby is a well-known British businessman which is said to have a personal fortune of £30m. He is a trained pilot whose private helicopter is used for maritime search and rescue.

Mr. Burby holds the UK franchise to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – a popular US coffee chain. He alleged the Pengirans approached him in 2000 with an intention to invest £4.5 million (later £7 million) in the venture. But the funds did not materialize, which finally led to a lawsuit in the British Virgin Islands. To be continued…

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