Mr. Free was engaged as a defense expert in this case, successfully rebutting Prince Jefri’s contention that the Zaman-Derbyshires were compensated in an unjustly enriched fashion.

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Seal, Mark. The Prince Who Blew Through Billions. Vanity Fair. (July 2011)

The Prince Who Blew Through Billions

When two British lawyers, Faith Zaman and Thomas Derbyshire, signed on in 2004 to manage the affairs of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, notorious playboy brother of the Sultan of Brunei, they entered a world of orgiastic wealth: 250 companies, 2,000 cars, luxury hotels, planeloads of women and polo ponies, colossal diamonds. Caught in a feud between the prince and the sultan, they ended up in a court battle over $23 million. Following the couple’s legal victory, Mark Seal gets an exclusive on the story the jury didn’t hear.

By Mark Seal     Photograph by Jonathan Becker

THE PLAYBOY PLAINTIFF From left, the Sultan of Brunei (No. 1) and his brother Prince Jefri after a polo match in England in 1994; a fleet of Rolls-Royce sedans parked outside the Dorchester, the London hotel owned by the sultan; Prince Jefri at the Peninsula hotel in New York during the trial, last year; leaving the State Supreme Court in Manhattan with some of his lawyers. By Muhammad Basil (sedans), Barry Batchelor/PA Archive/Press Association Images (Sultan).

For six weeks, starting last November 8, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, in Manhattan, the two sides in a most unusual trial presented equally outlandish stories. The plaintiff, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, Brunei’s notorious royal playboy, who has probably gone through more cash than any other human being on earth, tried to convince the jury that he was extremely naïve when it came to financial matters. He claimed that he never signed checks and that his business affairs had been managed entirely by four private secretaries and a coterie of advisers and attorneys, who ran his estimated 250 companies and all his other concerns. By casting himself in that light, Prince Jefri, 56, hoped to make the jury believe that two of his own lawyers, Faith Zaman and Thomas Derbyshire, the attractive British husband-and-wife team sitting at the defense table, had ripped him off to the tune of a reported $23 million. This wasn’t necessarily a bad strategy, because soon it seemed that only a simpleton would not have noticed the blatant chicanery he was accusing these attorneys of committing.

“Numerous acts of theft and deception, self-dealing, embezzlement and fraud, all designed to... continue reading at Vanity Fair, Or you may view the full article in PDF format.

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