x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Chance of a free ride as Romney bandwagon rolls into town

At first Frank Kane thought it was a spelling mistake in the email header field: "Matt Romney visit to Dubai this Thursday". But no, it was genuine. The son of the US presidential contender Mitt is due in the Emirates tomorrow, helping Dad out on the election trail and no doubt hoping to mop up a few of the floating American voters in the UAE.

At first I thought it was a spelling mistake in the email header field: "Matt Romney visit to Dubai this Thursday".

But no, it was genuine. The son of the US presidential contender Mitt is due in the Emirates tomorrow, helping Dad out on the election trail and no doubt hoping to mop up a few of the floating American voters in the UAE.

The Romney Victory campaign is holding a fundraiser at the Dubai International Financial Centre offices of the law firm Latham & Watkins tomorrow night and what a bash it promises to be.

A ticket for the general reception will set you back US$1,000 (Dh3,673) minimum per person, according to the invitation I was sent, while a Romney Victory founding member would have to shell out $50,000 per couple.

Steep but if you're dedicated to the cause of the former private equity man from Detroit it would be a small price to pay. And if you're a Romney Victory founding partner you'd probably be happy to cough up the $100,000 that would get you and your spouse an evening in support of Mitt, via Matt.

You have to be a citizen of the United States to make a political donation. So I think I'll just go along and freeload off Mitt and Matt.

 

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What a strange affair was the Arqaam-Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)-Ernst & Young (E&Y) set-to, raising far more questions than were answered in the settlement the three agreed late on Monday evening.

As a synopsis: the Dubai financial firm Arqaam commissioned the Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri to produce eight paintings in 2007 for $200,000.

Two years later, after consultation with its accountants E&Y, the works turned up in Arqaam's financial books valued at $2.45 million.

The DFSA was unhappy about the accounting treatment and began asking questions, especially about the backdated sale of the works to a Syrian company that provided the estimated book value.

On Monday, Arqaam and E&Y agreed to have their wrists slapped by DFSA, pay a (reduced) fine of $50,000, and make some minor alterations to the 2009 accounts.

Now, I don't know anything about art but you have to hand it to Arqaam for a shrewd bit of investment. To achieve a more than a tenfold increase in value at the height of the financial crisis deserves respect.

I asked Claudia Cellini, the co-founder of the Dubai art gallery The Third Line, which represents Mr Moshiri in the UAE, what she thought about the surge in value.

"There's no quantifiable measure to calculate artworks' rise and fall in market value," she said, "but values in the region grew exponentially between 2005 and 2009, as did Moshiri's own profile."

If you want to check him out, several of his works are on display in DIFC. But I'd still love to see the Arqaam collection.

fkane@thenational.ae