Bahrain is pressing charges against Saudi businessman Maan al-Sanea, the first time any of the players in a multi-billion dollar row with the Algosaibi family face the prospect of trial in a criminal court.

Al-Sanea is on a list of 15 executives referred to the country's lower criminal court by Bahrain public prosecutors, according to a document issued by the prosecutor's office and seen by Reuters.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said the complaints involved money laundering and fraud and added: The state prosecution office has transferred the case concerning some of the accused to the lower criminal court for committing the violations listed in the two complaints.

Others on the list include the former heads of both Awal Bank and The International Banking Corporation (TIBC), two Bahraini banking units that are part of the respective Al-Sanea and Algosaibi family empires and that were put into administration in 2009.

A spokesman for Al-Sanea's Saad Group declined to comment. The Algosaibi business empire said in an emailed statement it welcomed the Bahraini decision.

Bahrain's lower criminal court rules on misdemeanor crimes, while the country's high court rules on felonies. The supreme court of appeal has the final say on criminal matters.

The failure of the banks is a centerpiece in the spectacular row that has erupted between the Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB) business empire and Al-Sanea, who is related by marriage to the family, but runs his own Saad Group.

The Algosaibi family have accused Al-Sanea of defrauding them of billions of dollars since 2009.

The Saad Group, Maan Al-Sanea and his wife Sana Algosaibi -- who is also a partner in the Algosaibi business -- have vehemently denied the accusations, brought in court cases in New York, the Cayman Islands and London.

The BNA report said a first court hearing has been scheduled for March 14.

The list of 15 also mentions four Britons who worked at the banks and were held in the country for 18 months. They had been ordered not to leave the country pending investigations, but were finally released in December.

Three of them -- Alistair MacLeod, Anthony James and Clifford Giddings -- worked at Awal bank.

My clients don't have anything to say because they haven't been formally notified about anything, said Louis Castellani, at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, who represents the bankers.

There's a lack of information and we're trying to find out exactly what's happening in Bahrain, he said.

Kevin Moriarty, a fourth Briton who was released from Bahrain last year and who was at TIBC, died of a heart attack last Thursday in Thailand, where he lived.

(Additional reporting by Douwe Miedema in London and Amran Abocar in Dubai, Editing by Douwe Miedema and Chris Wickham)