Dubai's Drake & Scull issues rebuttal to ex-head Tabari's claims

Company says criminal charges have been filed against Khaldoun Tabari and daughter Zeina in Jordan

Drake & Scull International says its negative equity position had improved to Dh4bn by the end of last year, compared to Dh4.7bn a year earlier. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
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Drake & Scull International refuted a claim by its former chief executive Khaldoun Tabari that he was the victim of a "smear campaign". The Dubai contractor said "all previously issued press statements [by the company] are true and supported by evidence and documents, and not hearsay".

Earlier this month, Mr Tabari said DSI's allegations against him were "unwarranted commercial claims and not criminal complaints, and as such should have been dealt with in commercial courts". He also filed a motion through a legal consultant in the UAE "to object to the legality of the procedures that have targeted him to date", Mr Tabari said.

However, the company said in its rebuttal that an international arrest warrant was filed against Mr Tabari on December 25, leading to his arrest at Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan on January 8. DSI said courts in Jordan were informed Mr Tabari was wanted in the UAE on "charges of misappropriation, fraud, embezzlement, intentional damage to public funds, profiteering and forgery".

The contractor also said criminal complaints were filed in Jordan against Mr Tabari and his daughter, Zeina, resulting in two charges each being filed against them, including one felony fraud charge each.

"We would like to unequivocally refute Tabari's claims that the current management of the company is 'employing [unethical intimidation tactics] aimed at family members, former associates and friends'. The company would like to confirm that all previously issued press statements are true and supported by evidence and documents, and not hearsay. The company filed criminal complaints against Mr Tabari, his daughter Zeina, some of his family members, relatives and former board members," DSI said.

The company initially told markets in 2018 it had filed 15 complaints against Mr Tabari, who was chief executive from 1998 until August 2016, with the complaints stretching back to DSI's flotation on the Dubai Financial Market in 2008 and a series of acquisitions that followed in 2009-11. It has also said a restructure plan on which strategic investor, Tabarak Investment, based its Dh500m equity investment in DSI in 2017 relied on "false information" provided to it about the company's backlog value and projects' profitability.

Mr Tabari said the company's claims against him are unfounded, blaming a "clear lack of strategy" and pointing to the departure of five chief executives in a period of only two years. Earlier this month, he said an inability to manage the business led to the departure of key executives and technical staff, meaning it was unable to fulfil contracts.

Trade of DSI shares have been suspended since November 2018. Its last filed accounts for 2018 show a near four-fold increase in losses for the year to Dh4.5 billion as revenue fell 69.7 per cent to Dh798m. The company closed the year with net liabilities of Dh4.7bn.