U.S. expatriates sue Saudi Arabia over pension fund

Monday, September 8, 2003

Saudi Arabia has been sued by U.S. expatriates are suing Saudia Arabia on charges the Kingdom stole billions of dollars from a pension fund.

A class action suit filed in federal district court in Washington accuses the kingdom of stealing billions of dollars from a pension fund accumulated between 1969 and 1987. The suit, filed on Aug. 21, refers to a pension plan imposed by the Saudis on expatriate workers from the 1960s through the 1980s. The suit, filed by the law firm of Henrichsen Siegel charges that Saudi Arabia issued an order that excluded foreigners from the pension program in 1987 and never returned the money accrued, Middle East Newsline reported.

Thousands of U.S. nationals employed in Saudi Arabia from 1969 until 1987 could benefit from the suit against the kingdom and the General Organization of Social Insurance. The class action complaint was filed on behalf of John Peterson, who worked in the Saudi kingdom from 1979 until 1990 for several engineering and construction companies. Peterson now lives in Virginia.

"This case involves the savings and property rights of thousands of American citizens and permanent residents who played a key role in the construction and development of the modern day Saudi Arabia," attorney Eric Siegel said. "Many workers, including Mr. Peterson, were enticed to Saudi Arabia by favorable employment packages, which included GOSI benefits and an annuity system based on an employee-employer contribution. And thousands of those workers have been denied the money that is rightfully theirs."

Assuming the unassumable
Those who believe that an unplanned, random "Big Bang" explosion of unknown matter caused the formation of the numberless bodies of the cosmos have more faith that fanatics. They also conveniently ignore some obvious points of information: Read on . . .

Peterson seeks seeks class relief, injunctive relief and refunds from pensions from the Saudi government and GOSI. The suit charges Saudi Arabia with unlawful expropriation of property rights, arbitrary and discriminatory treatment of foreign workers with regard to their property in Saudi Arabia, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

"Employers used GOSI benefits to attract foreign workers," Peterson said in a statement. "For nearly 20 years ]1969-1987] contributions were mandatory for private employees and their employers, regardless of nationality."

GOSI was established by the Saudis in 1969 and imposed mandatory pension contributions for private employers and employees at 13 percent of the total value of an employee's wages and benefits. The employee contribution was five percent and the employer paid eight percent. Peterson said he received a check for his own contribution to the pension, but not that of his employers.

"The impact of the 1987 decree was devastating for foreign workers," Stephen Saltzburg, co-counsel in the suit, said."We are calling on the Saudi government to fulfill its obligation to these American workers and return to them that to which they are entitled."

The agency, which was to have distributed pension benefits to non-Saudi workers in their native countries, has invested employer and employee contributions in domestic corporations, organizations and international banks. In March 1987, the Saudi government

issued a decree excluding non-Saudi workers from GOSI. This was the second major U.S. class action suit against the kingdom in a year. Last year, the families of victims of the Al Qaida attacks in 2001 filed suit against leading Saudi princes and banks, saying they helped finance the suicide strikes in New York and Washington in which more than 3,000 Americans were killed.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover