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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Organisation targeting UAE revealed to be in breach of UK company law

Companies associated with group behind Detained in Dubai campaign are overdue on compulsory filing requirements in UK

The Companies House website. 
The Companies House website. 

A British-based organisation targeting the UAE have registered a series of breaches of the country’s corporate governance requirements, highlighting the shadowy nature of the group behind the Detained in Dubai campaign.

At least four companies associated with David Haigh or Radha Stirling, the principals behind the group, are now showing as overdue in completing compulsory filing requirements on the registry at Companies House. Some of the accounts, which are required to be filed by company law, were due to be filed as long ago as December last year.

In addition, Ms Stirling has variously registered her date of birth as either July 1977 or as November 1978 in various entries in companies where she is named as a person of significant control.

A third partner in Detained in Dubai, according to its website, is Shadid Bolsen, a US citizen who was convicted in the Emirates of murdering a German man, Martin Steiner, with chloroform before his sentence was reduced and he was released, after paying the dead man’s family blood money.

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According to the British records held by Companies House, Hotel Cove Ltd, Cloatley Hospitality Ltd and Mount Fleury Ltd, should have filed their books by December 31 last year. Separate annual statements that confirm the identity of those who run the company Du Justice is also overdue. David Haigh is listed as a director at each and all share an address in the southern county of Cornwall. Another company where Mr Haigh resigned as a director in 2017 is also marked overdue and is based at the same address.

In the registration for Stirling Haigh Ltd, Miss Stirling’s name is misspelled and her date of birth is given as 1977. In Detained in Dubai Ltd and other filings her date of birth is given as 1978.

Late filing is an offence under UK law. “It is the legal responsibility of the company’s officers to ensure that accounts are prepared and delivered to Companies House, and Section 451 of the Companies Act 2006 states that it is a criminal offence to file accounts late and directors may be personally liable for a fine,” a document produced by Companies House states.

One common link between the companies created by either Mr Haigh or Miss Stirling is the use of a US shelf company for services, First Corporate Services LLC.

Public records show that First Corporate Services was incorporated by an agent, Harvard Business Services, in the US state of Delaware as a Limited Liability Company on March 14, 2017. The tiny state is home to more than a million companies attracted by low tax rates and the fact that state laws make it possible to set up businesses anonymously.

Instead, agents such as Harvard Business Services will sign incorporation papers for a fee of $179, with no other identifying information appearing on public documents. Its address, in the town of Lewes, appears on First Corporate Services records.

“The privacy afforded to owners of Delaware corporations and LLCs is also incomparable,” it says on its website. “The state of Delaware allows you to file your company without listing the names of the owners, which protects the owners' identities, personal information and privacy in general.”

Since 2014, the agent has been required to hold a “communications contact” for each LLC. However, that need not be the owners and the information can only be revealed under subpoena to law enforcement officers.

Campaigners have long argued that the laws make it possible for the state to be used by criminals, money launderers and anyone else wanting to hide their intentions behind a facade of legitimacy.

For example, when President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen paid the adult actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged relationship with the president he used a Delaware LLC to obscure the trail.

First Corporate Services LLC also appears as a director of at least two other British companies.

It is not the first time that the companies records have raised questions over how the campaign is funded and run. Ms Stirling registered the company, Detained in Dubai Ltd, with Britain’s Companies House on March 11 this year, having been previously the sole owner of a company, Detained in Dubai, that was registered with the same body in 2009 but compulsorily dissolved.

Mr Haigh and Ms Stirling are both founders of Stirling Haigh, which offers services to those in trouble with the law even though none of the directors are currently qualified to practice. The company’s accounts filed in January described it as dormant with assets of just £2.

A third body, Du Justice, was established in October 2017 at Britain’s Companies House by Mr Haigh but changed its name in July to The David Haigh Foundation. Du Justice described the nature of its business as justice and judicial activities. Earlier this year a Dubai court ordered Mr Haigh to pay back $6 million in damages and other costs to GFH Financial following a conviction of fraud and embezzlement in 2015. The former executive at English Championship team Leeds United was arrested and jailed for two years in Dubai in May 2014 for misappropriating GFH funds after the firm bought a 24 per cent stake in the club. In 2015 he was convicted of breach of trust by Dubai Criminal Court and deported to the UK.

The court said Haigh faked about 100 invoices and arranged payment into at least four different bank accounts in Dubai, London and Manchester. He has denied the claims.