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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

International law firm Dechert named in another suit involving Ras Al Khaimah Ruler’s wrongdoings

Dechert sued in UK and US for human rights violations and misconduct acting for Sheikh Saud, ruler of RAK

Already in court over participation in alleged human rights abuses, including torture of a detainee in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates; Philadelphia-based law firm Dechert LLP is embroiled in another US Federal lawsuit in New York, accused of complicity in the falsification of evidence and slander in a malicious government-orchestrated campaign against American and European citizens.

Oussama El Omari, of Raleigh, North Carolina, who previously worked as Director and CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority (RAKFTZA) details a complex conspiracy in the claim filed in New York Federal court against multiple parties; all involved in an ongoing battle between Ras Al Khaimah Ruler Sheikh Saud and most of his family members.

In 2000, the then Ras Al Khaimah Ruler Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qassimi appointed his son Faisal to oversee the newly created Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone Authority (RAKFTZA) to help attract foreign investment to the underdeveloped and oil poor emirate. Faisal hired Oussama El Omari to lead the ambitious project, and within a few short years as CEO, El Omari succeeded in turning RAKFTZA into the “Best Emerging Free Zone”/investments agency in the world.

However, unbeknownst to El Omari, rivalries within the ruling family prior to the late ruler’s death, Saud’s ascension to the position of ruler was made conditional by his family on the stipulation that his younger brother Faisal would be named Crown Prince. Saud agreed, but once he took over, he levelled accusations against Faisal in order to disqualify him from the promised post and appointed his own son, Mohamed in his place. This caused a flare-up in the family. This would bring El Omari’s stellar success to a screeching halt with the death of the late ruler Sheikh Saqr in 2010. Faisal’s brother Saud had deposed his older half-brother as Crown Prince so after his father’s death, he became ruler.

Sheikh Faisal had not only been chairman of RAKFTZA, but was essentially the emirate’s finance minister, or Ras Al Khaimah’s exchequer. It soon became clear that Sheikh Saud had no intention of allowing his financial management of the RAK government to be scrutinised. In fact, his unilateral and unaccountable takeover and transfer of his father’s private money to other countries like Georgia, Russia and elsewhere was apparent immediately, claiming for himself nearly all of the estimated $2 billion dollars bequeathed by his late father to all his children.

Sheikh Saud then promptly took out Islamic bank loans in the name of RAK Govt. for another $2 billion to be taken out of the Emirate and was planning to double dip by asking Abu Dhabi to bail out RAK. El Omari explains that this was intended to discourage any attempts by his brothers to stand up to his wrongdoings. “No one wants to inherit power in a country swimming in debt”. The lawsuit claims that Sheikh Saud then began using the appropriated money, and the new lack of transparency he had imposed on RAK, to channel the funds out of RAK Govt. by financing projects; in Georgia, Malaysia, and elsewhere. He hired one of the defendants in the case, Jamie Buchanan, as Financial Advisor, and RAK’s assets were put under the control of a company called Longview, for which Buchanan had previously worked; and Saud’s transfers and parking of those funds in offshore accounts are now completely unchecked. Essentially, what he was doing was stealing the money and then accusing American, European and other foreign employees of embezzling funds.

Since under Faisal and El Omari, RAKFTZA had been enormously successful. Saud needed a plausible explanation for RAK’s bankruptcy and Faisal’s removal from office. So, Sheikh Saud accused Faisal of mismanaging RAKFTZA and he began to target the senior staff, including El Omari; claiming that they had embezzled money and breached trust. Saud hired an American public relations firm, KARV, to conduct a review of RAK Govt. in order to camouflage his political ambitions to get rid of Faisal’s promised position as Crown Prince of the emirate. In fact, the ruler forced El Omari against his will to pay the smear campaign PR fees to the American PR firm. RAKFTZA employees protested that Saud was conducting illegal activities by abusing his power trying to frame the American and European employees as scapegoats instead of confronting his own brothers since he could not put them in jail (as Sheikhs) and risk tribal uprisings which would make Abu Dhabi angry at him. Saud’s abuse of American, European and other foreign employees and framing them as scapegoats was his way to bargain with his brothers’ rivalries to settle the conflicts of their rejection of him as the legitimate ruler. Saud decided to fabricate this report to cover up something that US/Canada/Abu Dhabi intelligence discovered, which was that RAK had been engaging with an Iranian government entity to manage its major RAK port. RAKFTZA, according to the lawsuit, was accused of illegal activities and financial misconduct.

Everyone who had worked under Faisal was tarred in Sheikh Saud’s campaign, and most, if not all, of the pending investment agreements at the time were unilaterally nullified by the Saud. Anyone who stood up for Faisal or who tried to rebut the accusations of mismanagement found themselves facing criminal charges; foremost among them, Oussama El Omari and the foreign management team members. As punishment to Oussama El Omari, Saud denied him due process with the RAK Court in order to collect his end of service benefits for 15 years of hard work.

Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International, says, “What occurred after Sheikh Saud seized power in Ras Al Khaimah was an atrocious purge of Saud’s rivals and anyone loyal to them. People who worked for years to build the emirate economically, and who were highly professional and successful in their jobs were not only fired, but thrown in jail, persecuted, and listed on Interpol as fugitives over completely fabricated charges. Sheikh Saud’s grievous misuse of public finances, his looting of the emirate’s economy for personal use warrants a serious investigation; however, everyone who knows the truth has been viciously silenced by Saud’s government and its agents, like Jamie Buchanan and Dechert law firm. No one is challenging them but Oussama El Omari and the still jailed Karam Al Sadeq. It is absolutely crucial for their voices to be heard and heeded”.

The New York lawsuit is El Omari’s counterattack against the years-long persecution and slander of his name. In papers filed with the court, it is alleged that Neil Gerrard of Dechert; the same lawyer facing allegations in the High Court of England for overseeing the torture of British citizen Karam Al Sadeq, also detained as part of Sheikh Saud’s smear campaign; along with Jamie Buchanan and a US PR firm Karv (Defendant) headed by Andrew Frank and Amir Handjani, who faked the DOJ registration by representing foreign power the ruler of RAK.

“Mr. El Omari is the victim of a highly coordinated campaign led by the government of Ras Al Khaimah and allegedly carried out largely by paid western lackeys like Dechert who have spread lies about him, persecuted his associates and colleagues, fabricated criminal charges against him, and reported him to Interpol; all apparently because Sheikh Saud wanted to secure his position as ruler and misappropriate monies from unknown sources as well as RAK Government”.

El Omari alleges that Neil Gerrard and Jamie Buchanan provided misinformation about him to an online portal called “Intelligence Online”, accusing him of embezzlement, money laundering, and even human trafficking. “Jamie Buchanan and Neil Gerrard, and by extension, Dechert, are empowered by Sheikh Saud to use any means necessary to cover up his mismanagement of Ras Al Khaimah and his shady business dealings,” El Omari says, “If that means innocent people are imprisoned, tortured, slandered and pursued around the world, so be it. One would expect a higher ethical standard, but Sheikh Saud pays them well, and they have carte blanche under his remit to behave like any typical henchmen of a third world dictator.”

Stirling expressed shock at the apparent indifference of Dechert over Gerrard’s misconduct, “He is accused of grave violations and serious criminal offences, in not one, but two highly evidenced cases on both sides of the Atlantic, yet remains in the employ of Dechert, and Dechert continues to represent Sheikh Saud; himself arrested once in the United States for sexual assault. The lawsuit details a wide array of prosecutable offences ordered by Sheikh Saud and overseen by the likes of Gerrard and Buchanan, including drug smuggling, prostitution, and defiance of US sanctions against Iran; we are not talking about misdemeanours; these are charges that they would not only be disbarred for in the West, but they would go to prison.”

El Omari stated: “Foreign investors need to understand that their investments in Ras Al Khaimah are likely to be treated by Sheikh Saud as donations to his personal fortune. In fact, Saud threatened me that I have to negotiate under the table commission (minimum 10% of their gross income) with all RAKFTZA investors or risk losing the job without benefits and may be imprisoned if I share with Faisal, the chairman then. He felt he was free to use as he saw fit ever since he deposed Sheikh Faisal and persecuted his staff who were the only officials ensuring the integrity of the investing environment in RAK.

“In conclusion, Saud’s goals are mainly acquisition of power and money and his illegal methods are to defame anyone who gets in his way and to funnel money out of the country in other illegal projects. As CEO of the RAKFTZA, simply because of working for his brother, I became one of his prime victims, and this is the story.”

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