Troubled construction firm Saudi Oger owes $800m in unpaid salaries and end of service benefits to workers and financial dues to subcontractors and banks, according to reports in the international media.
The figure was revealed after French employees of the Riyadh-based firm hired a lawyer and filed a case against the company in the French courts.
Saudi Oger is estimated to have about 200 French employees workings as engineers and administrators for projects in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman, according to Saudi Gazette.
Negotiations between the two sides have been described as at a standstill after Saudi Oger said it would only pay the French employees five months’ salary and half of their compensation, rather than the full amount demanded.
The employees have been receiving financial help from the French Embassy in Riyadh to cover their expenses.
An estimated 31,000 complaints relating to unpaid dues have been filed by workers against Saudi Oger, which has been hit hard by a slowdown in the Saudi construction sector.
In recent weeks, reports have linked the firm with a government takeover, while others have suggested its only option will be to file for bankruptcy.
The issue of unpaid worker salaries has attracted international attention, with plans put in place by foreign governments to protect their workers.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued new directives this week preventing firms from being paid for government projects unless they have paid workers on time.