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Dubai Developer Al Barakah insolvent

Posted by 7starsdubai on January 9, 2009


http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090108/BUSINESS/669514675/1005

Al Barakah, a property development company with more than a dozen projects in Dubai and Ajman yet to get off the ground, has told investors it is insolvent.

Lawyers acting for the company told the investors at a specially convened meeting last week that the company had at least Dh400 million of unsecured liabilities.
Investors said later they were disappointed that the company’s chief executive, Shariq Imran Khan, did not attend the meeting.

Mr Khan is being sought by Dubai Police for allegedly bouncing cheques totalling Dh60 million (US$16.33m).

Last month, the total of the cheques that had bounced totalled only Dh14m.
All cheques were written by Al Barakah in the names of several investors and post-dated to back up its promise of a 50 per cent return in six months.
The investors said they were also disappointed at the lack of documents to support the financial data presented at the meeting.

A lawyer representing the company, A B Mahomed SC, said it was difficult to ascertain the exact status of the company because the balance sheet was incomplete.
“The group is in a de facto state of liquidation,” he wrote in a memorandum dated Dec 30 and sent to investors the next day. “Its liabilities exceed its assets. It does not conform to generally international best practices and standards. Clearly, a clean-up is needed.”

Mr Mahomed is based in Durban, South Africa. A copy of the memo was obtained by The National.

Al Barakah has launched at least a dozen property developments in Dubai and Ajman since 2007, including the Burj Manara Ajman in Marmooka City, which was billed as the tallest tower in Ajman.

Omar Bissar, another lawyer acting for Al Barakah, said the assets appeared to be enough to cover about half of the liabilities, which were estimated at Dh823m. Mr Bissar, based in Dubai, is also acting as the company spokesman.

Since the Al Barakah case first came to the attention of the authorities last year, the Ajman Government has instituted a new property regulatory authority to improve transparency in the industry.

According to the figures in the memorandum, Al Barakah’s assets are mainly money advanced against land, and were estimated at Dh412m. The document says Al Barakah has paid “an aggregate percentage of 83.88 per cent” for eight plots of land in Dubai and Ajman: Ajman Creek, Al Tafany Palace, City of Arabia Hotel Tower, Crimson Court, Dubai Waterfront, Evergreen Tower, Jebel Ali Village and Marmooka City.

The document says 36 per cent of liabilities relate to memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed with property investors. Mr Khan signed MoUs promising to buy back the properties after six months with a guaranteed 50 per cent profit on the downpayment and signed the post-dated cheques as a guarantee.

Dubai police have barred Mr Khan, a Pakistani national who is also thought to hold Canadian citizenship, from leaving the country. Investors say he remains in e-mail contact with his staff and lawyers.

“Imran Khan’s absence from executive management made information almost inaccessible,” the memorandum said.

Mr Khan last month wrote to investors blaming his problems on the market downturn and asking for at least a year to repay them. He said he had been out of touch with the market for a month and was not in a position to offer a clear solution.

Investors said after last week’s meeting they were frustrated at the time Al Barakah was taking to present a clearer picture of the company’s situation.

Mr Khan is a chartered accountant by profession, according to his company’s literature.

One investor, who asked not to be identified, said no supporting documents were offered to back up the memorandum on the company finances. “We took a look at the finances, but there is no background,” he said.

“They claim to have assets for around Dh400m, but we do not know the details. They have sold properties for around Dh550m but only a very small minority were real sales. The rest were MoUs. But they did not provide us with documents to back the figures. It took them so long to do nothing.”

Several investors said they wanted to conduct an independent audit and hold a meeting with Mr Khan. However, they said he had agreed to a meeting only if the investors withdrew claims against him.

“There is a positive communication with the Al Barakah team now, but the only man who knows the show is Imran Khan,” said another investor. “He said he would show up only once we have cancelled the cases. But only if we have confirmation that there is a travel ban on him and we can get a copy, will these investors be willing to cancel their cases.”

Tariq Minhaj, a senior spokesman for Al Barakah, said early last month it was difficult to provide comprehensive accounts because of the numerous companies involved.
“We will present our financials. The procedure takes a week to 10 days,” Mr Minhaj said at the time.

RAK Free Zone has said Al Barakah Investment is registered in the zone. Mr Bissar said Al Barakah Development was based in Dubai Jebel Ali.

Mr Khan also traded through Inside Track Real Estate, a property broker in Dubai, Inside Track FZC, an investment company registered in Fujairah Free Zone, and Sanali Holdings FZE, according to company documents.

Mr Bissar said Al Barakah was in talks with the Ajman Government to cancel all five of its proposed towers in the Marmooka City development and be refunded. Al Barakah executives have previously suggested that Al Barakah’s assets be combined into a holding company in which creditors would be given shares.
ngillet@thenational.ae

“There is a positive communication with the Al Barakah team now, but the only man who knows the show is Imran Khan,” said another investor.
“He said he would show up only once we have cancelled the cases. But only if we have confirmation that there is a travel ban on him and we can get a copy, will these investors be willing to cancel their cases.”

Tariq Minhaj, a senior spokesman for Al Barakah, said early last month it was difficult to provide comprehensive accounts because of the numerous companies involved.
“We will present our financials. The procedure takes a week to 10 days,” Mr Minhaj said at the time.

RAK Free Zone has said Al Barakah Investment is registered in the zone. Mr Bissar said Al Barakah Development was based in Dubai Jebel Ali.

Mr Khan also traded through Inside Track Real Estate, a property broker in Dubai, Inside Track FZC, an investment company registered in Fujairah Free Zone, and Sanali Holdings FZE, according to company documents.

Mr Bissar said Al Barakah was in talks with the Ajman Government to cancel all five of its proposed towers in the Marmooka City development and be refunded.

Al Barakah executives have previously suggested that Al Barakah’s assets be combined into a holding company in which creditors would be given shares.

ngillet@thenational.ae

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