x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

DIFC court freezes Orion Holdings assets

Orion Holdings Overseas, a Dubai financial services company, has had its assets frozen after former employees filed a claim against it.

Orion Holdings Overseas, a Dubai financial services company, has had its assets frozen after former employees filed a claim against it with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), court documents show. In their application of claim in the DIFC Courts last week, 13 former employees alleged that Orion owed them money but was "winding up without filing for liquidation". They also alleged that Orion failed to pay benefits awarded by courts and that the company was selling off assets.

The courts issued a penal notice on November 1 granting the application. The assets frozen included accounts at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Standard Chartered, and apartments in the AG Tower in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers development in Dubai. No value for the assets was included. "Orion strongly denies the baseless allegations made against it by these ex-employees and intends to vigorously defend their opportunistic claims at a full hearing of the DIFC Court." said Kaashif Basit of JSA LAW, the lawyers for the company. No date for a hearing has been set.

Shuaa Capital, a Dubai investment bank, bought a 20 per cent stake in Orion Holdings and "controlling stakes" in Orion subsidiaries in January of last year for Dh193 million (US$52.5m), a statement announcing the deal said. Shuaa said in its third-quarter earnings note that Orion had "ceased to trade" and that "the directors of the entity have voted to liquidate the company but a resolution to liquidate failed to achieve the necessary majority in a vote by shareholders". It also declined to comment on the court case.

The challenges at Orion played a role in third-quarter losses of Dh269.7m posted by Shuaa. Most of that came from a Dh258.9m impairment investment values in units including Orion. @Email:afitch@thenational.ae bhope@thenational.ae