Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018

A Qatari involved in a lawsuit against basketball gets diplomatic immunity

WASHINGTON – A Qatari investor who has already met Donald Trump's presidential transition team has been "totally immune to all aspects of civil litigation" after a lawsuit accused him of stiffening his fellow investors in the basketball league 3-on-3 professional snooker Ice Cube.

The US State Department has recognized the diplomatic status of Ahmed al-Rumaihi in September, according to documents related to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the US district court of the Central District of California.

Jeff Kwatinetz, chief executive of Ice Cube and Hollywood, said the Qatari investor had not honored millions of dollars in financial commitments to BIG3 Basketball LLC.

The circumstances of the diplomatic status of al-Rumaihi remain unclear. The State Department mentions al-Rumaihi as the attaché of Qatar. The dossier filed Tuesday describes al-Rumaihi as Qatar's commercial attaché for the investments.

Jassim al-Thani, Qatar's press secretary in Washington, told The Associated Press earlier this year that since March 2017, "Mr. al-Rumaihi did not represent the State of Qatar in official matters. Qatar is not involved in any of its private affairs. Al-Thani did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on al-Rumaihi's current status.

According to lawyers in the league, al-Rumaihi left his home in Los Angeles for Qatar several months ago to escape his testimony in a case involving allegations that he tried to use his relations with the league to get in touch with President Donald Trump through Steve Bannon. strategist at the White House at the time.

Wednesday's Ice Cube tweeted a link to an article on the filing, adding: "America First? Yes indeed."

A representative of al-Rumaihi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The television footage showed al-Rumaihi alongside Qatar's foreign minister when he visited Trump's transition officials at the Trump Tower on December 12, 2016. Al-Rumaihi was part of the Qatari delegation that had been greeted by Trump lawyer Michel Cohen in the lobby of the Trump Tower entrance before entering. an elevator.

Al-Thani said that al-Rumaihi accompanied the Foreign Minister to the Trump Tower, but "did not attend any meetings".

An Al-Rumaihi spokeswoman told AP earlier this year that Al-Rumaihi and Cohen had met to discuss Qatar's potential investments in US infrastructure. Al-Rumaihi was head of Qatar Investments, a division of the Qatar Investment Authority.

"Mr. Cohen stated that he would charge $ 1 million for his services and at no time did Mr. al-Rumaihi or any other representative of Qatar Investments pay the requested fees. , and Mr. al-Rumaihi did not even consider making such a payment, "said the spokesman.

A Cohen representative did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.

Kwatinetz, Bannon's former business partner, said in an affidavit that he had filed a lawsuit earlier this year against basketball. He had been invited to a hike in January with al-Rumaihi.

"Mr. al-Rumaihi told me that he wanted to convey a message from the Qatari government to Steve Bannon," Kwatinetz said in the document. Al-Rumaihi asked me to hold a meeting between him, the Qatari government and Steven Bannon, and tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would guarantee all his political efforts in exchange for his support. "

Kwatinetz stated in his sworn statement that he had immediately rejected the request, offended and stated that neither he nor Bannon would ever take or prevent such a bribe.

"Mr. al-Rumaihi laughed and then told me that I should not be naive, that so many Washington politicians were taking our money, and said," Do you think that (the former adviser Trump, Michael) Flynn refused our money? "Kwatinetz said the statement.

A Flynn lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.

Qatar is one of the biggest spenders in Washington's influential industry and has been striving to win hearts and minds in the United States since last year when its neighbors tried to isolate the country .

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and its other neighbors broke off diplomatic relations and in June 2017, a blockade imposed on Qatar was proclaimed. The small, gas-rich monarchy financed terrorism and disrupted the unity of the Gulf.


Suderman reported from Richmond, Virginia. Follow Tami Abdollah on Twitter at https://twitter.com/latams.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, disseminated, rewritten or redistributed.


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