Saudi billionaire Sheik Wali Juffali hopes to escape paying his ex-wife Christina Estrada for a divorce settlement by claiming diplomatic immunity.
The 60-year-old is St. Lucia’s diplomat and permanent representative to the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization, giving him access to diplomatic immunity. This means he could leave Estrada, 53, without any financial settlement for the divorce.
Estrada, who discovered that her husband had secretly married a 24-year-old television presenter, has now launched a battle, fighting for her share in Juffali’s $6 billion fortune.
Conservative British MP Andrew Rosindell, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, is raising serious concerns about the matter, questioning Juffali’s rights to use diplomatic immunity for personal benefits.
“Diplomatic immunity is a huge privilege, and should only be exercised in the most demanding and relevant instances. To use it for personal benefit risks making a mockery of diplomatic privileges,” he stated.
Interestingly, Juffali has not attended any of the 27 meetings held by the IMO since his appointment and yet wants to fully exercise diplomatic rights.
Eldridge Stephens, St. Lucia’s high commissioner in London from 2008 to 2012, said: “I am yet to understand fully why it is that this government feels it necessary to engage the services of this businessman.”
“Can we make everyone who invests money in St. Lucia an ambassador?”
“If Mr. Juffali has not attended any IMO meetings he should not have benefited from the appointment that he has been given,” Stephens said.
St. Lucia’s Ministry of External Affairs and representatives for Estrada and Juffali have declined to comment on the matter, and only time will tell what the final verdict will be.