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A federal judge this week ordered frozen some of the assets in the United States of Prince Bandar, former Saudi ambassador to Washington, who has been hit by a lawsuit by BAE Systems shareholders, a court source said Sunday.

The British defense group since June has been the subject of a criminal investigation in the United States of possible anti-corruption law violations related to its activities in Saudi Arabia.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office announced in 2006 that it was halting an investigation into claims that BAE Systems set up a slush fund for some members of the Saudi royal family during the giant 1980s Al-Yamamah deal. Press reports said BAE paid two billion dollars in bribes to the prince with staggered payments, a furnished Airbus A340 and a honeymoon for his daughter.

BAE has not denied the payments and in September US shareholders saying they had been injured filed suit against BAE executives and Prince Bandar.

Plaintiffs, after learning Bandar might sell some of his US properties, asked authorities to ensure that profits from any such sales were not allowed to leave the country.

In a decision announced Tuesday Judge Rosemary Collyer, who is handling the case in a Washington federal court, granted their request. The prince can sell his properties as he likes but the product of any sale would remain in a US account in his name, she ordered.


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