DSI files new charges against former CEO

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Construction major Drake & Scull International (DSI) said on Wednesday that the Abu Dhabi Public Funds Prosecutor is investigating new criminal complaints filed against its former chief executive officer and vice chairman, Khaldoun Tabari, family members, and other former executive managers.

The company said Tabari, who was recently arrested in Jordan, has been charged for misappropriation, fraud, embezzlement, intentional damage to public funds, profiteering others, and forgery by the Abu Dhabi Public Funds Prosecutor in response to 15 prior criminal complaints filed by DSI.

The construction giant has been pursuing legal action against Tabari to get him extradited to the UAE following his arrest by Jordanian authorities at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. The arrest followed an international arrest warrant filed by UAE authorities against Tabari that resulted in an Interpol red notice issued January 7, 2020. DSI has also filed a criminal case against Tabari and Zeina Tabari in Jordan.

Tabari's arrest two weeks ago, when he was catching a flight to the UK, was consequent to a request made by the Interpol to the Jordan Public Security Directorate in wake of his failure to appear before the UAE judiciary in a case which involves 15 criminal complaints filed against him by DSI in Abu Dhabi. Tabari has a travel ban in the UAE.

A few months ago, Tabari made a statement denying any wrong-doing and said that DSI's accusations of financial violations against him are an attempt to find a "scapegoat" for its mounting losses. He said that the firm had filed 15 complaints against him to the public prosecutor and the allegations prompted authorities in the UAE to order banks to freeze his bank accounts in June 2018.

DSI began reporting losses in 2015 after the decline in oil prices forced developers and clients to defer payments and delay projects. Following Tabari's departure as CEO in 2016, it has replaced five chief executives and four chief financial officers. The company's shares have been suspended since November. Tabari was the second biggest shareholder in the company before selling his stake to strategic shareholder Tabarak Investment in 2016.

In 2019, the construction major blamed its Dh4.5 billion loss in 2018 on a deliberate and conscious decision by the previous management and board to defer announcement of losses for the years 2009-2016. DSI also had claimed Tabari and his daughter Zeina, a former board director, owe the firm $272.3 million.

The DSI spokesperson said that if extradited to the UAE, Tabari would face prosecution for those 15 criminal complaints filed against him by DSI for which he may serve a minimum of 5-15 years.

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Issac John

Editorial Director of Al Khaleej Today, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Al Khaleej Today. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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