x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Fahim arrest warrant withdrawn

The business tycoon says he does not owe Dh8m to a property investor.

An arrest warrant issued against Sulaiman al Fahim last week was conditionally withdrawn on Wednesday, granting the Emirati tycoon a one-month grace period to repay some Dh8 million invested in a property development that never materialised. The Chief Justice of the Dubai Property Court, Judge Abdel Qader Moosa, told reporters: "Al Fahim has been granted a one-month grace period after his legal representatives stated that he is out of the country.

"The arrest warrant has been nullified and he is asked to pay around Dh8 million," he said in an SMS message. On February 10, the court's civil execution section issued the warrant for Mr al Fahim, the former public face of Hydra Properties and host of the business-themed reality television show Hydra Executives, after he failed to respond to a court order issued in January last year demanding he repay Dh8,634,836 to an Azerbaijani investor, court records show.

A civil property case was filed against Mr al Fahim in 2008 by the investor, who claimed to have purchased two floors in a tower that Mr al Fahim's Al Buraq Development and Investment was developing at Business Bay in Dubai. Mr al Fahim denies receiving any of the money. The tower was not built. The court ruled against Mr al Fahim in January 2009, and there is no record of any appeal. In a telephone interview late on Wednesday night, Mr al Fahim, who is also the former owner of the English Premier League football club Portsmouth, said there was no basis for him to repay the funds.

Mr al Fahim claimed the investor was Russian, not Azeri. "I should not have to pay any money. I did not receive any money. I did not receive even a penny from this deal," he said. "The court report confirms that I did not receive any money." He added: "The Dh8m that the Russian paid - he has to be repaid but he should be repaid by the person who received the money." Mr al Fahim said there had not been an arrest warrant issued, but it was rather a "call to a hearing".

"I was shocked when I read the story. I was not aware that there was a court order saying that I must pay Dh8m. I sent my lawyers to the court today [Wednesday] to find out the situation. There is no arrest warrant at all. This is a civil case. "There was never an arrest warrant. There has been a problem with the translation. There was a 'call to hearing' not an arrest warrant. "The call to hearing means that I must attend the court. it doesn't mean that I will be arrested as soon as I come back into the country."

According to the court records, the court would have required him to be apprehended and appear before a judge. Asked who should repay the investor, Mr al Fahim said that was for the court to decide. "At the call to hearing there would be the final decision about who pays and how much. It is the decision of the judge," he said. "I will do my best to see that the other people pay him, but that is all."

In addition to Mr al Fahim, two other firms were named on the repayment order - Ghantoot Star General Trading and Al Buraq. amustafa@thenational.ae chamilton@thenational.ae