Drake & Scull confirms news of ex-chief executive's arrest

Khaldoun Tabari was arrested in Jordan on January 5 and has surrendered his passport to authorities

Khaldoun Tabari, the former CEO of Drake and Scull, denies all of the charges that have been filed against him. Ravindranath K / The National
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Dubai-based Drake & Scull International said on Thursday it is aware of media reports regarding the arrest of the company's former chief executive, Khaldoun Tabari, in his home country of Jordan.

Mr Tabari, who led the company from before its initial public offering on the Dubai Financial Market in 2008 until October 2016, was arrested on January 5. He remains in Jordan, but has surrendered his passport to the authorities.

"The company hereby confirms the accuracy of the news according to our knowledge", it said in a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares trade.

On Wednesday, Mr Tabari told The National he remains unaware of the allegations that have been made against him.

"We are surprised. My lawyer is shocked. We have no clue," Mr Tabari said.

Drake & Scull fell on hard times during the three-year oil price slump that began in 2014 and heavily impacted the property and construction sector in the region.

The former chief executive stepped down from his role at DSI in October 2016, and subsequently sold his stake in the company and resigned as a board member in February 2017 as the company underwent a share recapitalisation and financial restructuring that saw a further Dh500 million equity investment made in the business.

However, Drake & Scull subsequently said in an announcement in May last year it had handed over files "related to questionable projects for the period 2009-16” as part of 15 legal complaints that were filed to the public prosecutor for what it described as “offences by members of the previous management during their tenure between 2009-2017”.

The company did not name any of the executives involved, but in June 2018 Mr Tabari's UAE bank accounts were frozen and a travel ban was issued against him. He was outside of the UAE at the time and hasn't returned to the country since, although he says his lawyers have been in constant contact with the public prosecutor's office.

"What we know is there has been a committee looking at all things [regarding his past conduct at Drake & Scull] which we gave all the information," Mr Tabari said.

"There has been no communication. My lawyer goes every week. I have letters to prove that saying 'it is still under investigation, wait until we call you'. The latest letter we got was on October 22, 2019," he added.