A Businessman’s [Predicament]: The Pending Corruption Files Before the Saudi and Emirati Authorities

A Businessman’s [Predicament]: The Pending Corruption Files Before the Saudi and Emirati Authorities

  • April 19, 2020
Canadian businessman Omar Ayesh and hundreds of other victims lost their money in the largest real- estate fraud in the Middle East, the Tameer Holding scandal, a debacle valued at $1.8 billion by courts in Dubai. As a result, he established the Global Justice Foundation aimed at shining a light on commercial corruption.

Speaking to the Arabi21 news website, Ayesh explained why he remained silent for more than 11 years and why has he now decided to reveal details of his story.

“I feared my case would be exploited or politicized; and I also feared it would harm Dubai or the UAE. I did not want that. Now, I'm convinced that the judiciary alone would not do justice to me, especially after one of the court's experts ruled in my favor for 1.8 billion dollars, then resigned after threats from the Saudi Minister of Human resources and Social Development, Ahmad AlRajhi.”

Ayesh noted that the reactions to Al-Jazeera's investigative documentary entitled “Investment Illusion” ( which exposed his story, were widespread. “I received a large number of messages of encouragement and moral support, many of which carried signs of surprise and disapproval. Other parties were interested in conducting extensive investigations into the issue and seeing more details of the matter and its dimensions. Among these authorities were some of the well- known international universities, study centers, and anti-corruption institutions.” He said.

When asked about the Emirati accusations on social media of him committing fraud, dishonesty, and embezzlement on a large scale in the real estate sector at the time, he said, “They believe they are serving the UAE as if we were in a battle and a struggle against it. This is untrue. Rather than focusing on corruption itself and hold the corrupt accountable, they demonize the victims and question their credibility. They should provide proof of their allegations.”

Ayesh denied his accusations regarding the Tameer Holding scandal had anything to do with his relations with Qatar. “My investments in Qatar ended in 2010, way before any dispute between the UAE and Qatar. At the time, the relations were excellent between the two nations; and I remember personally arranging meetings between the bank's Chairman of the Board of Directors and senior officials in Abu Dhabi.”

He added, “My previous relationship with Qatar was purely commercial and investment and had nothing to do with politics from near or far. They seek to politicize the issue to try to weaken my position, while my case is not political, and not directed against any state or government.”

Ayesh asserted that victims of the Tameer scandal “are by the hundreds” and as the founder of the company, he is just one of them. “I have documents that prove it.” He added.

Ayesh told 21Arabi that he regards the Tameer case as a public opinion case. “People involved in the case are public figures, such as the Minister of Human resources and Social Development, Ahmad AlRajhi. Another reason is the large number of victims from all around the world.”

“Gulf International Bank became involved in the case by making false statements in court to cover-up the corruption of the Saudi minister of human resources and social development.”

Ayesh asserted he would not hesitate to prosecute this bank in different places, including America, as he is a resident and the bank has branches there. “I will present Mazen Al-Kahmous, president of the Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha), a complete file on the involvement of Gulf International Bank.” He added.

“In 2018, There was an attempt to settle the case through the president of Tameer. Their offer was very unfair, and I turned it down. Also, the company’s auditor contacted me a few months ago trying to mediate a settlement. He said I couldn’t receive my just and legitimate rights, and the Compensation amount should appeal to both parties.” He told 21Arabi.

Ayesh explained how Ahmad Al-Rajhi received assistance from Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of the UAE royal family, to take over his properties and companies located in the free zone. “Al-Rajhi couldn’t have done that without my signature, therefore he resorted to Sheikh Saqr, who was also involved in the matter. He played a huge role in changing the company's management and illegally transferring its assets.”

Ayesh estimates he deserves a minimum compensation of 2.5 billion dollars for his loss due to the Tameer scandal.

“It affected my business life. Before all this, I used to be one of the most prominent businessmen in the real estate investment and development sector in the Gulf region and the Arab world. I have spent the last 12 years fighting for my rights. Whatever compensation I receive from Dubai courts will not compensate me for my loss, but life isn’t always fair.”

This article is a translation of the original interview: