The London High Court has lifted a worldwide freezing order on the assets of the Dubai-based businessman Abdourahman Boreh, paving the way for his Dubai holdings to be formally unfrozen within weeks.
It is the latest development in a series of bitter disputes between the government of Djibouti and Mr Boreh, formerly chairman of the East African state’s port and free zone authority.
Justice Flaux said that he had been “materially misled” when granting the worldwide freezing order against Mr Boreh, the former head of Djibouti’s port and free zone authority in September 2013, and that the freeze should be lifted immediately.
Mr Boreh’s lawyers told The National that they expected Djibouti to apply in the coming days to have a freeze on Mr Boreh’s assets in the DIFC,imposed in October 2013 following the London freeze order, set aside.
“The English courts have directed the claimants to seek to withdraw the DIFC Courts order within seven days,” said Ben Davies, a London-based partner with Byrne and Partners.
“It’s a formality which is expected to be granted very quickly.” An official at the DIFC Courts said yesterday that it had not yet received such an application. “I am deeply grateful to Judge Flaux for clearing my name,” said Mr Boreh.
“The English justice system and courts have a truly well deserved reputation for integrity and independence.”
The judge also severely criticised Peter Gray, a Dubai-based lawyer with Gibson Dunn, acting for the Djibouti government, for deliberately misleading the court in September 2013, over a terrorism conviction against Mr Boreh in Djibouti in June 2010, which formed the basis of the freezing order.
Justice Flaux said that Mr Gray had failed to disclose to the London court that phone calls between Mr Boreh and two brothers in Djibouti believed to have been made in the aftermath of a grenade attack on a local supermarket on March 4, 2009 had actually been made 24 hours earlier, rendering his terrorism conviction unsound.
Mr Gray has subsequently been suspended by Gibson Dunn, who declined to comment.
Mr Davies declined to comment on whether Mr Boreh planned legal action against Mr Gray or Gibson Dunn, saying that his client was “considering all his options”.
As part of this wider dispute, the Djibouti government in July rescinded a concession granted to the Dubai Ports operator DP World to run the country’s Doraleh Container Terminal.
The Djibouti government accused DP World of paying bribes to win the concession, which was granted in 2000 under Mr Boreh’s tenure as head of the country’s ports authority, and had launched arbitration proceedings in London. DP World, which continues to manage the port pending the outcome of the case, has rejected the allegations.
Djibouti’s decision to rescind the concession came shortly after Dubai refused to extradite Mr Boreh to Djibouti to serve prison time for his terrorism conviction.
A DP World declined to comment on the London court ruling. We continue to reject all the allegations made by Djibouti against DP World and are vigorously defending our position in the arbitration proceedings.”