Our appeal to HH Shk. Mohammed, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai.
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EIGHTY-SEVEN (87) FAMILIES OWED USD 12.5 MILLION DOLLARS BY UAE NATIONAL JAMAL AUF ABDULRAHMAN LOOTAH.
Jamal Lootah's sister, Mona Lootah, works as the Deputy Director of the Office of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, who happens to be the wife of Sheik Mohammed, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Our appeal to HH Shk. Mohammed, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai on behalf of 87 international families:
“Justice delayed is justice denied” (United States Chief Justice Warren E. Burger).
Please spend five minutes reading about our SEVEN (7) -year fight for justice in the United Arab Emirates legal system and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). I ask for your support on change.org, social media, Twitter, Facebook, professional media and via polls to highlight our struggle for justice.
We are not a multinational company with a legal department and deep pockets. We are mothers and fathers with children and families, many of whom have lived in Dubai for well over ten years. We are the people who left our homes in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, The United Kingdom, Europe and other countries, and worked hard to help make Dubai a success. Almost all persons affected by this case have lost their life savings and now require your support. We have followed the letter of the law, committed still further funds to our legal fight, and waited more than 7 years for justice, only to be ignored by Dubai. We are not asking for anything special, just that the law be applied. Justice served.
As you probably know, Dubai became a hotbed of business and investment activity around twelve years ago as investors and companies rushed to participate in one of the modern worlds most stunning property market booms. The growth of Dubai was orchestrated by its leader, HH Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who strived to create a more open, western-style economy than those of neighboring Gulf States. His motto “Open doors, open minds”. The emirate enjoyed rapid growth as hundreds of thousands of expatriates and their families gravitated to the city to enjoy the job opportunities, lifestyle and investment opportunities on offer. Companies and individuals from all over the world have come to service the booming economy and many have invested, making long-term commitments to the emirate.
As the city grew, it became evident that to attract investors, Dubai needed to create an accessible and internationally recognized legal framework both to safeguard the interests of the growing number of companies interested in entering the local market, and to protect the local and international investors fuelling the Dubai economy. After all, without investment, the economy of Dubai would wither and die as its oil revenues dried up. Dubai needs investors, both big and small. To serve this purpose, the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) was created.
I am the managing director of Property Concepts, a company with 87 shareholders (the families mentioned above). From the outset, when we created the company, we sought expert legal advice from a reputable law firm within the DIFC to ensure we had the protection of the law as it is afforded to any other company operating in Dubai. We chose the DIFC as it offered the best protection for us as investors in the nascent Dubai investment industry.
Over the years, we enjoyed some success, investing both in Dubai and elsewhere, and returned respectable dividends to our investors, most of whom continued to invest with us. We did not advertise and most of our clientele came through personal references and endorsements. We were a small team with exceptionally low overheads, the aim being to return the same dividends to our investors as we returned to ourselves. We invested in every project, along with our shareholders. If our projects didn’t make money, neither did we.
Some of these investments were made with Lootah Network Real Estate & Commercial Brokerage, a sole establishment company owned by UAE national Jamal Auf Abdulrahman Lootah. However, in July 2009 Lootah’s company failed to return a capital investment, thereby committing a breach of trust under the terms and conditions of a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Since Jamal Lootahs company operates on a UAE Sole Establishment License, he personally remained 100% accountable for return of the funds under UAE Law. After a personal assurance to me on July 21st 2009 that the matter would be resolved quickly, Jamal Lootah transferred the funds in question out of Dubai and fled to Egypt.
We immediately sought redress through the DIFC, and after an expensive legal process, on June 20th 2010 the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) court ruled in favour of foreign-owned Property Concepts against locally owned Lootah Network Real Estate & Commercial Brokerage, in the amount of AED 31 Million. That was over seven years ago, and contrary to what Dubai and the DIFC would like you to believe, having a court rule in your favour in the DIFC/Dubai legal system is a hollow victory. Even though ours was the first case (DIFC ARB 001/2010) ruled from the DIFC LCIA - DIFC Court and transferred to the Dubai Courts for execution, to date, we have not had our judgment enforced. Jamal Lootah walks free.
We have, however, committed further funds to continue the legal process with no success. Our legal bill is now well over USD$600,000, whilst Jamal Lootah has not parted with a cent or even appeared in court. Meanwhile, the funds now owed to us are in excess of USD$12.5 million.
All along, we have been told by persons of influence to simply follow the legal process in order to see justice delivered. I had the opportunity four years ago to personally brief EMIRATES Airline chairman Sheik Ahmed (uncle of HH Sheik Mohammed) on our lawsuit. After all, almost all persons affected are his senior employees (pilots, engineers, managers, senior cabin crew). His advice was clear “follow the UAE legal system and justice will be served”.
Some years ago we formally approached the office of the ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai via our lawyers Al Tamimi. At the time we were clearly advised by the Rulers office to “continue following the DIFC / UAE legal system, execute the enforcement and then revert back to us”. We continued following the legal process only to meet a brick wall when it came to enforcement. When we went back to the rulers office we were told that they would not investigate our case as Jamal Lootah is not a government entity. This pointless exercise, (two formal approaches to Sheik Mohammed’s office, firstly to appeal for help, and secondly to advise we had again not achieved an enforcement) cost us an additional USD $55,000 in legal fees.
As background, Jamal LOOTAH is a member of an extremely wealthy, prominent and generally well-respected family with many businesses in Dubai, and is well capable of settling his debt. The LOOTAH FAMILY supposedly pride themselves on honour and integrity based on family history, however it seems on this occasion one of their family members has chosen to thumb his nose at the legal system, and in turn at the patron of the DIFC courts, Sheik Mohammed himself.
After further legal process, and expense, an arrest warrant was finally issued for Jamal Lootah in September 2013. Since then we have been made aware that he has been travelling freely to and from the UAE all whilst having an active arrest warrant in place via the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Dubai police and immigration. It is hard to put your faith in a legal system that allows this to happen. Officials at the DIFC subsequently advised us in May 2014 that they would “try” to get an INTERPOL Red Notice issued against Lootah, but to date this has not been done.
Dubai police have since confirmed they are not permitted/willing to arrest him at his home as it is “not legally permissible”, yet when asked for evidence of this law, the response was “we have no such written record (law) in existence”. This seems contradictory when you consider the Dubai police and the CID arrested many expatriates in their homes following the collapse of the Dubai property bubble. Further to this, CID stated they were ‘reasonably’ confident of Jamal Lootah’s whereabouts and were certain that he has been out of the country since 2008. This is 100% incorrect since I met him in Dubai on July 21st 2009. Further authentication of Jamal Lootahs presence in Dubai post-2009 has come from a leading international business intelligence firm. Either the Dubai police, CID really don’t have a clue, or they know full well that he is in Dubai, and are unwilling to act due to pressure from above. Who is exerting that pressure remains to be seen.
Jamal Lootah's sister, Mona Lootah, works as the Deputy Director of the Office of HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, who happens to be the wife of Sheik Mohammed, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Mona Lootah is obviously in direct contact with both her brother and the ruling family. I have spoken with her on two occasions and she assured me that our funds were located and the case would be resolved. She has never made good on this assurance. Jamal Lootah is capitalizing on his sisters close association with Dubai’s ruling family and flatly stated in one of his last phone calls with me “You will never have me arrested. Do you not know my sister works for Princess Haya. We are family friends!” This would indicate that at least Princess Haya is being influenced to prevent the arrest of Jamal Lootah, otherwise how could he make such a claim?
Dubai would like the world to think that now it has successfully concluded the restructuring of its international debt obligations, and won the EXPO 20/20, it is on an equal footing with the rest of the world as far as financial and legal responsibility are concerned. Dubai regularly advertises on the international stage via television, newspapers, magazines and billboards, promoting Emirates Airline, EXPO 20/20, the DIFC, Dubai Healthcare City, property investment opportunities, and tourism, all under the guise of it being a great place to do business. In reality it brushes cases such as ours under the carpet.
If this case were heard in another jurisdiction, one less fettered by money, power and undue influence, the law would be upheld. The arrest warrant would have been served on Jamal Lootah and he would now be sitting in jail contemplating his options. Instead, he continues to live on the stolen savings of 87 families, unencumbered by a conscience and avoiding the inconvenience of having to curb his lifestyle and repay his debts. By failing to bring him to justice, the Dubai legal system sends a clear message that there are some Emiratis who, through association with the ruling family, are above the law.
My appeal to HH Shk. Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai on behalf of 87 international families is this. I ask you to please take off your leaders cap for a moment and truly walk a mile in our shoes. In reality, our walk is over seven years of stress and life savings spent seeking justice in the DIFC & DUBAI Courts. On behalf of 87 individuals/families what I respectfully ask of you as head of the courts, head of CID, head of police, head of the DIFC, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, is to consider the facts of DIFC Award ARB001/2010 and ensure ‘swift and effect justice’ is finally served as openly promulgated by the DIFC and Dubai courts. I ask you personally as ultimately you are responsible for all the entities we are seeing justice through. The fact is that case DIFC ARB001/2010 has been five years in the UAE justice system with no justice in sight. The fact is that $12.5 million USD, per DIFC Award ARB001/2010, remains outstanding - while Jamal Lootah walks free under the guise of having a close association with your family.
We have continuously followed due legal processes to the letter of the law and have attempted to respect all local protocols. I find myself here, pleading our case publicly because unfortunately, after channeling our plight through everyone apart from the media we still have not had our case enforced, we have not had our money returned, and Jamal Lootah is a free man with no fear of you or the law.
We have an endless list of legal documents, court records, telephone communication and over 7000 emails of correspondence. We have attended meetings with high profile UAE leaders all promising action to resolve our case but after 5 years our fight for justice goes on and on.
Most recently the list includes:
- Chief Justice DIFC Michael Hwang
- Chief registrar DIFC Courts Mark Beer
- Senior members of Al Tamimi Law firm (our lawyers)
- DIFC Justice Omar Al Mahairi
- DIFC CEO Chirag Shah
- H.E Justice Jasim Baqer Chief Justice of the Dubai Court
- Roberta Calarese Chief Legal Officer Dubai International Financial Centre Authority
- Nassir Al Nasser DIFC Courts Enforcement
Below are recent results of us following the legal process:
REF 1: Mark Beer, Chief registrar, DIFC Courts, recently stated we should take our case back to the DIFC LCIA as they are the issuing authority.
REF 2: HE Justice Omar Al Mahairi, DIFC Justice, recently stated we should take our case back to the Dubai Courts.
REF 3: H. E. Justice Jasim Baqer, Chief Justice of the Dubai Court, recently stated to Property Concepts we should take our case back to the UAE CID/Dubai police.
REF 4: Mr. Chirag Shah, DIFC CEO, recently stated we should take our case back to DIFC Courts.
REF 5: DIFC authority Chief legal officer Roberta Calarese recently stated “enforcement of arbitral awards is a matter exclusively for the DIFC Court as determined under Dubai Law No. 9 of 2004”. I totally agree with this statement from Mr. Calarese. Unfortunately, after five years it is obvious the DIFC Courts are not willing to collaborate with Dubai Court, CID, or the Police, to ensure justice in our case.
REF 6: In a recent CNBC interview ex DIFC CEO Mr. Jeff Singer referred to the ‘transparency and enforceability’ of DIFC awards transferred to Dubai court for execution. We are yet to experience this enforceability or the ‘swift and efficient justice’ he speaks of.
Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts, Michael Hwang has stated: “The DIFC Courts and Dubai Courts are both dedicated to providing world-class justice and are both committed to ensuring that judgments are enforced. The final judgment is not the end of the process for either court in our mission to provide swift and efficient justice; if that judgment is not honoured we will collaborate to enforce it and to deliver justice. If a person or company does not honour a judgment of either Court it becomes necessary for the Courts to enforce the judgment, whether by seizing property and money or, ultimately, by imprisonment. Enforcement judges from both courts apply the rules of the respective Courts, but the enforcement judges have no jurisdiction to review the merits of a judgment, award or order of the other court.”
The Director General of Dubai Courts has stated: "The Dubai Courts and DIFC Courts continue to work closely together in all areas of justice, including enforcing judgments. Our dual success in reciprocating enforcement is a landmark in our partnership, and this will continue."
An example of us being driven in circles:
On the 21st May 2014, we were again requested to attend a meeting at the DIFC with Justice Omar Al Mahairi. Property Concepts along with lawyers Al Tamimi attended. At the time, I felt this was to be a positive step. What is of interest is days prior Al Tamimi (our lawyers) advised they had a meeting with CID but very clearly instructed us not to inform the DIFC! How is this collaborating to enforce and to deliver justice? After some 3 weeks were instructed by DIFC Justice Omar Al Mahairi and DIFC enforcement section that the case was again being handled by the Chief Justice of the Court of First Instance in Dubai Courts, HE Justice Jasim Baqer. Again we re-established contact. Subsequently Justice Bager advised we should re-contact the Dubai Police/CID to obtain a clearer picture of what CID and Prosecution (Public prosecutor) can and/or willing to do. Some seven months later we are still awaiting an answer as the person who we have been liaising with is again, on leave. We were told he is now on annual leave while previously he was on a business trip.
An example of the misconception that justice has been served:
The DIFC on their own website considers our award has been executed and enforced by the Dubai Courts, even though they are still conducting meeting that will hopefully lead to an enforcement. Mark Beer, DIFC head registrar, in an interview with the Global Arbitration Review on June 8th, 2014 is quoted thus “ [I] flatly reject the point that DIFC court judgments are difficult to enforce in Dubai”. He is also quoted as stating "a leading case [….] known as the Property Concepts Case, where the Dubai local courts executed, without any issue, a DIFC judgment ratifying a DIFC-LCIA arbitral award…" and also states "it is empirically incorrect to suggest that there is any difficulty of enforcement within the Emirate. The DIFC courts are part-and-parcel of the Dubai judicial system.” This is incorrect and a complete distortion of facts by the DIFC. It is my opinion there seems to be a group of people within Dubai that are trying to convince the global legal profession that the DIFC has enforced our award. The fact remains that there has been NO enforcement, NO arrest of Jamal Lootah and certainly NO sight of our USD 12.5 million.
I thank you for reading this and hope you have been inspired to share our plight with others. We would welcome your compassion, support, polling involvement, media involvement via change.org, professional media, social media, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube.
We are simply seeking justice.
I have solid written proof of all information stated above. Please feel free to contact me on email: email@example.com for further information or with any suggestions.
Nigel AJ HERBERT
It is now time HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai intervened to ensure justice is served in the Property Concepts vs. Lootah case, given no justice has been forthcoming after more than seven years in the UAE legal system.
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