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Will UAE companies face justice, US style?
Barker-Homek’s half billion dollar suit against Taqa is just the latest lawsuit filed against UAE and Gulf companies in the US. But there’s no guarantee it will succeed there.
September 1, 2010 4:41 by Sam Potter
Abu Dhabi National Energy Co’s (Taqa) former chief executive has sued the energy group in a U.S. court, alleging he was forced out for trying to stop “kickbacks, bribery, accounting fraud and corruption”. Peter Barker-Homek said he was summoned into a meeting in 2009 and presented with a “severance agreement” to step down, according to his lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan.
Taqa, 75 percent owned by the government of Abu Dhabi and one of the vehicles the emirate uses to invest oil money, rejected the former CEO’s claims. “The company takes any challenge to its reputation extremely seriously and will vigorously defend itself and the individuals named against the spurious allegations made in the filing,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Barker is seeking at least $460 million in damages. He said he signed the agreement because he feared arrest and imprisonment, and forfeited “millions of dollars owed to him”.
“Worried for his life and the well-being of his family, Barker signed the severance agreement, thereafter he was harassed and lived in fear of a ‘knock’ on the door by the police, received mysterious phone calls and was followed, until finally he and his family escaped to the safety of the United States,” said the lawsuit.
Barker-Homek is not the first person to sue a UAE company from the safety of the US. Earlier this year, 7days reported the case of a former Springs resident Lionel Lombard. The New Orleans man was suing UAE property giant Emaar in the US court system alleging racial discrimination, harassment and violations of human rights between 2005 and 2010. His $61 million case says his mistreatment began after he complained over racial discrimination at the development.
Lombard “also sues for compensation of property seized by government officials in conjunction with his arbitrary arrest, forced disappearance and prolonged detention,” says the court documents. They also accuse Emaar of conspiring to have him arrested and jailed, where he was “savagely beaten.”
Dubai Police rejected the allegations, according to Reuters. Deputy police chief Khamis al-Mazeina said, “We strongly deny those accusations. Dubai police does not torture anybody …. This is all a figment of his imagination and entirely baseless.”
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