Man tells Dubai court he kissed girl, 13, in a ‘fatherly way’



DUBAI // A man accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in a lift told a court that he was just kissing her as if she was his daughter.

Pakistani M B, 31, denied a charge of sexual assault at Dubai Criminal Court on Monday after prosecutors said he had held the British girl’s face between his hands and kissed her cheek and lips on October 27 last year.

The girl, G R, said she was on the ground floor of the building where she lived in Al Barsha and was using the lift to return to her family’s flat on the sixth floor when the defendant got in the lift.

She said that, when he grabbed her, she tried to get out at the third floor but said the man would not let her. She eventually managed to flee via a staircase and made her way to her mother, who was at the gym in the building.

“She was hysterical and shaking from fear and kept repeating that someone had kissed her,” said 34-year-old mother L H.

“I went outside with my daughter looking for this man, and when we didn’t find him I called building security and reported the incident.”

Police said in records that they tracked down the man through his car’s number plate, which they had obtained from camera footage.

“We checked the surveillance cameras and saw him getting into a car that obviously belonged to his work, so we managed to get to him and arrested him in Sharjah, in collaboration with Sharjah Police,” said policeman A H, 35.

“When he was first asked, he said he just saw a girl who seemed to be scared and in trouble and all he did was to calm her down.”

The defendant insisted during prosecution investigations that he only kissed the girl on her head and forehead in a fatherly way. He also denied sexually assaulting her in court.

A verdict is expected on April 9.

salamir@thenational.ae

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Produced: Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rajkumar Hirani

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Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Anushka Sharma, Manish’s Koirala, Dia Mirza, Sonam Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, Boman Irani

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
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Sector: FinTech
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Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
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New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Mark Chapman, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

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