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Al Fajer Properties Case – Zadeh says he’s a victim of a system in which the rulers can manipulate police and the courts to protect their business

Posted by 7starsdubai on July 19, 2009


Al Fajer Properties Dubai 2009 , Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum

In this Gulf city-state, two things have long been untouchable: business interests and the ruling family. However, an attempt to sue a member of the family over an alleged financial swindle is a sign of how much the economic crisis has rattled business as usual here.

Shahram Abdullah Zadeh accuses the brother-in-law , sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, of Dubai’s emir illegally of taking over his real-estate firm Al Fajer Properties and having him detained by police to help the swindle.

Zadeh, a 37-year-old Iranian national who has lived in Dubai all his life, brought a civil case against the brother-in-law and his son Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum to get his firm Al Fajer Properties back, a rare move. Even more surprising, shrahm Zadeh tried to raise criminal charges, but that step went nowhere because prosecutors rejected it.

The case has raised questions about whether Dubai really is what it claims to be: A boomtown where international businessmen can safely invest and turn a profit; or rather, a nest of cronyism and connections where royal blood can still trump entrepreneurial effort.

Such questions were largely ignored by everyone – businessmen and politicians alike – as long as the cash was rolling in during Dubai’s stunning expansion over the past decade. But now the emirate has hit the skids in the world financial crisis.

“During the boom, Dubai’s shortcomings were glossed over, but now that the economy is struggling, it’s becoming a different story,” said Christopher Davidson, an author of two books on the United Arab Emirates and a lecturer at Durham University in Britain.

Dubai’s emir, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, led the emirate’s vast financial ambitions. But business ran far ahead of the effort to modernize legislation in what remains a traditional Arab monarchy, where the ruler and his family hold final say.

Now the government has been trying to rein in some fast-and-loose business practices. About a dozen former executives are in custody for various investigations. Some have close ties to the government, but none of those in custody are related to the ruling family.

Zadeh’s case goes farther – breaking to taboo of questioning Dubai’s leadership. Zadeh says he’s a victim of a system in which the rulers can manipulate police and the courts to protect their business.

“If Dubai cannot provide security for foreign investors, they might as well switch off all the lights,” he said.

Attempts over the past weeks by The Associated Press to contact the brother-in-law, Sheikh Hasher Maktoum bin Juma’a Al Maktoum, were unsuccessful. Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoumand his company attorneys did not return repeated phone calls or respond to interview requests.

In the first session of Zadeh’s civil case, Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum and his lawyers failed to appear. In the second a week ago, his lawyer asked the court for more time to study the allegations. The case is to resume May 4.

Zadeh and the Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum went into business in 2004. Foreigners are allowed to deal in property only after finding an Emirati sponsor to officially register a company. The usual practice is for the Emirati sponsor to give his signature for an annual fee or profit share. Several members of the sprawling ruling family are involved in such deals.

Zadeh set up a firm, Al Fajer Properties, and was chief executive while Sheikh  Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum held the trade license. The firm was profitable and is now worth about $2 billion, according to Zadeh. But the partnership soured over delays in building a commercial tower, Juemirah Business Centre.

Zadeh said in an affidavit to Dubai’s attorney general that he was arrested in February 2008 and held for 60 days. He says he was never charged with any crime but was questioned over his business – including the combination of his safe.

While Zadeh was in detention, Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum took over the company Al Fajer Properties by appointing his son Sheik Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum as chief executive, ousting Zadeh, according to Zadeh’s filing. When he was released, Zadeh says he found his office safe had been cleaned of documents showing he was the owner of Al Fajer Properties and Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoums partner.

Zadeh also says police tried to push him to sign a document saying he had no connection to Al Fajer Properties. He submitted to the court

Al Fajer documents listing him as CEO and transactions that his lawyers contend show he was the sole investor. The Associated Press was given a copy.

Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum  “thought he could do it all because he’s a Sheik,” Zadeh said.

Police refused to comment on whether Zadeh was detained. Shahram Zadeh says they continue to hold his passport and so far he has had little luck pushing his claims.

He submitted a criminal complaint but the attorney general refused to investigate, giving no reason.

Zadeh then filed a complaint directly to Dubai’s emir, who holds what is called the Ruler’s Court. Residents can bring to the emir what they believe are injustices unaddressed by the courts – from disputes over money to wrongful deaths.

Zadeh says he has received no response.

see also: Terahn Times

More: Al Fajer Properties DubaiJumeirah Business CentreEbony Ivory Towers Dubai

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10 Responses to “Al Fajer Properties Case – Zadeh says he’s a victim of a system in which the rulers can manipulate police and the courts to protect their business”

  1. Dubai Citizen said

    Has anyone heard anything about this case.
    There is a rumour going around that the Iranian investor is going to sue Dubai Ruler in the International Courts because the Dubai courts are not investigating the file in a proper manner.If this turns out to be true Dubai ruling family will suffer the biggest blow ever.

  2. Court News said

    Dubai sheikh’s lawyer rejects lawsuit as baseless

    DUBAI, May 04, 2009 (AFP) – The defence lawyer for a Dubai sheikh being sued by an Iranian businessman over 1.9 billion dollars in property investments on Monday rejected the lawsuit as baseless.

    “All his allegations and the sums that he claims to have pumped into the company are unfounded,” lawyer Samir Jaafar told AFP after the third hearing in the case.

    Shahram Abdullah Zadeh has filed the 1.9-billion-dollar case against Sheikh Hasher Maktoum bin Jumaa al-Maktoum and the Dubai-based real estate developer Al-Fajer Properties.

    Zadeh insists he was the real owner and sole investor in Al-Fajer, which is registered under the name of Sheikh Hasher, a brother-in-law of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

    “There are surprises in the documents that we have presented to the court which will turn the case upside down,” Sheikh Hasher’s lawyer said, declining to elaborate.

    “We believe that the lawsuit will be rejected after the court goes through the documents that we have presented,” Jaafar added.

    Legal sources close to the case, asking not to be named, said the defence has charged that the sums which Zadeh says he invested in the company were in fact the “company’s money that he misused to appear as if it was his own.”

    Zadeh, for his part, demands the “recovery of all material assets of Al-Fajer Properties,” according to legal documents obtained by AFP.

    These include liquid assets and property, which are estimated at seven billion dirhams (1.9 billion dollars), and nine percent interest since the suit was filed.

    His lawyer Salim al-Shaali, who asked the judge for time to study the defence document, said that at the next hearing on May 25 he will ask for an auditor to be appointed to look into the company’s accounts.

    “The expert would decide who pumped capital into the company and … whether the defendants paid any money,” he told AFP.

    Zadeh charges Sheikh Hasher made no investment in Al-Fajer and that he acquired the licence under the sheikh’s name only because Emirati law does not allow non-Gulf citizens to register real estate firms under their own names.

    “For every dirham that Sheikh Hasher can show the court he has invested in Al-Fajer Properties, I will give him the company and an extra 10 million-dollar bonus,” he told AFP after the latest hearing, which he did not attend.

    He said he started up the company from scratch, pumping in cash “as and when the company needed,” and that he only withdrew part of his initial investments after the company expanded from property sales.

    “The sheikhs claim I was an employee,” said Zadeh.

    “My question to the court is what employee (can be) the sole investor, work for four years with absolute single authority signing billions of dirhams on cheques, contracts … but work without a salary or an employment contract?”

    In addition to Sheikh Hasher, Zadeh is suing his daughter, Sheikha Maryam, a partner in the company, and son Sheikh Maktoum, who was made president of Al-Fajer after Zadeh was sacked in February.

    Zadeh said he was detained by Dubai police after he was sacked and then held without charge for 60 days, and that his passport was confiscated and is still being held.

    “I still don’t know why I was arrested,” he said.

    The case comes as several executives from high-profile Dubai firms are being held on suspicion of embezzlement and as the once-booming regional business and tourism hub struggles to stave off the impact of the global economic crisis.

    ak/hc

    © Copyright AFP 2009.

  3. Emirati said

    As an Emirati I am ashamed of how the Dubai Ruling Family have treated this man. At first when the story came out I was expecting a very strong answer from the police or authorities and/or the sheikhs accused. The fact that they did not reply confirmed the suspecions of serious violations of the Rule of Law. I am very disapointed in Dubai Ruler for saying something in public and doing exactly the opposite. The same is with the sheikh issa torture tapes. I wonder what else is hidden in the closet.

  4. Cyrus said

    Dubai was built with the Iranians money from the days this place was a fishing village where they used to get water from Iran till the days Iranians invested billions in the real estate market. How dare a little sheikh from Al Maktoum Family will mess with the Persians. The crimes against humanity by the ruling families is coming out one by one…..

    Its sickening how the arab media have turned a blind eye to the royal theft by sheikh hasher maktoum the brother in law of dubai ruler. Its high time the pretentious ruler came out clean.

  5. PEACE said

    SHAME ON DUBAI & ITS DISGRACEFUL OFFICCIAL WHO DON HAV THE COURAGE TO ANSWER ZADEH. C’MON GUYS GET YOUR ACTS TOGETHER! THIS PLACE WAS SO LOVELY AND SAFE IN THE 90S. GREED WILL BURY DUBAI AM TELIN YOU

  6. Arab said

    There is no security in Dubai or UAE when it comes to sheikhs, police, or courts. I respect this Zadeh guy for saying so bluntly. Sheikh mohammed bin Rashid what happened to the nobody is above the law and the government is here to serve the people? Yalla are you going to continue to be quiet or allow a fair investigation? the world is watching dubai’s ruling family stealing from the foreign investor. mabrook to all emiratis who were talking about how tolerant, fair and transparent their sheikhs are… we now realised that they are great thieves.

  7. Gary said

    Looks like Shahram Zadeh was not the only victim of the Ruling family Crimes. Sheikh Issa Bin Zayed’s criminal behaviour and how the entire UAE authorities have done nothing about it reconfirms that there are no laws when it comes to the sheikhs. Why should the foreign investors like myself ever trust the UAE law enforcement authorities when they are a bunch of criminals serving the ruling family’s unlawful desires.

    I think the whole world should boycott dubai for its double standards and the ugly face of the ruling family that sheikh mohammed bin rashid is covering up. To those who are asking why are they quiet about it, ITS BECAUSE THEY ARE 100% Guilty.

  8. Jaber said

    WHY ARE THE SHEIKHS, THE POLICE, THE PROSECUTION, THE RULER’S OFFICE ALL QUIET?

    THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF STATE CRIME AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL. SHAME ON DUBAI FROM TOP TO BOTTOM FOR OPERATING SUCH SECRET PRISONS, & OPERATIONS AGAINST THE RULE OF LAW.

  9. Khalifa said

    Is the tribe of HASHER and others behind planning something serious behind the curtain against Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum ? If so, people wake up and protect the RULER of DUBAI !

    A serious a family feud ?

    “Last month, Photos of Dubai’s ruler and his sons have been taken off billboards across the UAE, fueling speculation of a rift within the family.

    Family photos of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his two sons Rashid and Hamdan have been replaced by pictures portraying the emir alone.

    The changes across Dubai coincided with rumors that the ruler had been wounded during a row with his second son and heir to the throne, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

    Sources familiar with the issue had previously claimed that Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his son had been at each others’ throats for a long time.

    According to the sources, the global economic crisis, which has gripped the Persian Gulf emirate, has caused serious disagreements within the Al Maktoum family.

    Crown Prince Hamdan, nicknamed as Fazza, is demanding a more prominent role in Dubai’s governance, a position his father is reluctant to give, the sources added.”

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=89988&sectionid=351020205

  10. Foreign Investor said

    I SALUTE YOU DR SHAHRAM ABDULLAH ZADEH. ALL FOREIGN INVESTORS SHOULD STAND UP FOR THEIR RIGHTS AND DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO BULLY THEM. CONNECTIONS/CONTACTS/VIP/SHEIKH/ HOT SHOT…. ALL OF THAT SHOULD BE BELOW THE RULE OF LAW.

    I WILL NOT BE SURPRISED IF THEY LOCK HIM UP AGAIN, BUT ATLEAST HE IS BRAVE ENOUGH TO CHALLENGE THE AL MAKTOUMS ON HOME GROUND!!

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