x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Doubt over La Liga football deal chief's CV

Exclusive: Kaiser Rafiq, managing director of a UAE company that announced the acquisition of the Spanish La Liga football team Getafe, said there has been a "miscommunication" about his career history after a press conference inaugurating the deal at in a ballroom on the 27th floor of the Burj al Arab hotel.

The managing director of a UAE company that announced the acquisition of the Spanish La Liga football team Getafe yesterday distanced himself from a CV he published on the internet after purported employers and universities denied he was ever involved with them. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENE
The managing director of a UAE company that announced the acquisition of the Spanish La Liga football team Getafe yesterday distanced himself from a CV he published on the internet after purported employers and universities denied he was ever involved with them. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENE

The managing director of a UAE company that announced the acquisition of the Spanish La Liga football team Getafe on Thursday distanced himself from a CV he published on the internet after purported employers and universities denied he was ever involved with them.

Kaiser Rafiq, who describes himself as the partner and managing director of Royal Emirates Group, said there was a "miscommunication" about his career history after a press conference inaugurating the deal in a ballroom on the 27th floor of the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai.

Mr Rafiq, who goes by the title Dr Kaiser Rafiq, said in a CV on Linkedin.com and linked directly from the "Managing Director's Message" section of the Royal Emirates Group website, that he had obtained a doctorate from New York University (NYU) and a business degree from Yale University School of Management.

James Devitt, a spokesman for NYU, said the university had no record of his attendance. Tabitha Wilde, the associate director of media relations at Yale School of Management, said there was also no record of his attendance at the school. Mr Rafiq also said he was a member of the "Skull & Bone" society, a likely reference to Yale's secret society Skull and Bones that counts among its members George W Bush and other US politicians.

A spokesman for the Anderson School of Management at the University of California in Los Angeles, where Mr Rafiq claims to have received a bachelor of business administration degree, could not be reached to verify his attendance.

Mr Rafiq also lists he was a vice president of sales and marketing at Trump Organisation, the chief executive of Prudential Real Estate's UAE office, and country manager of Zee TV USA.

Rhona Graff-Riccio, a more than 20-year veteran of Trump Organisation and assistant to the eponymous founder of the company Donald Trump, said: "I've never heard of him." Theresa Miller, a spokeswoman for Prudential Financial, said the company did not have a brokerage operation in the UAE and that Prudential had no records of his employment.

Suresh Bala, the US country manager of Zee TV, said there was no record of Mr Rafiq's employment.

Mr Rafiq said last night he "was not applying for a job" when questioned about the apparent errors. "There are some things that have been on here for two or three or four years," he added. "Maybe the proper title, the proper working relationship might not have been displayed correctly."

He said he had submitted a thesis to NYU on corporate manipulation, but did not recall the name of the school within the university or the name of his thesis adviser. "There might be a miscommunication or error," he said.

Mr Rafiq said he had created his own company in the UAE called Prudential, but could not explain why his CV states he "worked for American based largest real estate brokerage as CEO". Finally, he claimed the reference to a relationship with Zee TV "could be a little bit error in this way".

He lists himself as the executive director of Tawasol Emirates Media, a company that had its logo emblazoned on a new logo of the Getafe football team that included the words "Team Dubai" superimposed below.

The company says on its website it is involved in publishing and distribution of magazines, newspapers, directories and books, as well as other media activities.

Mr Rafiq said on his CV he was involved with My Assetz Investment Management and was the chief executive of DubaiRoomShare.com,, a roommate finder service.

The refutations of sections of his CV came in the midst of Royal Emirates Group's signing ceremony in the Burj al Arab to buy the Getafe team for what Mr Rafiq said was between €70 million (Dh374.8m) and €90m.

He declined to characterise how the company would pay for the deal except to say the majority would come from the company's own cash reserves.

The details of the arrangement were a "confidential matter", he said during a question-and-answer session after the signing of the deal with a Spanish dignitary and Angel Torres Sanchez, the president of Getafe.

In an earlier interview Mr Rafiq said Royal Emirates was a "more than billion dollar company" focusing on oil and gas, tourism and property with 200 subsidiaries and brands. The company is not widely known in the UAE business world and has announced few deals.

Royal Emirates describes itself on its website as "an emerging leading group with diverse business interests in the local and international markets". The company "has practically mirrored the development of modern Dubai, standing tall as one of the country's most dynamic business groups today", the website says, adding it owns 64 companies and brands.

The group signed a partnership agreement with Mechatronic Engineering and Construction last November, according to a press release, and announced deals involving yacht building and helicopter purchases for lease last year and in 2009.

bhope@thenational.ae