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UK court freezes assets of top Dubai demo executive

A court in the UK has frozen £62m ($76.37m) in assets belonging to a well-known name in Dubai ship recycling circles as a fraud case gathers pace.

Five private equity funds have taken Muhammad Tahir Lakhani, 58, and his sons, Ali and Hasan, to court, alleging a £72.2m fraud involving 13 tankers sold for scrap, according to a report carried in Dubai newspaper The National. Lakhani is in charge of Dubai Trading Agency, one of the best known cash buyers in the United Arab Emirates focusing on demolition.

“The applicants hold equitable proprietary tracing claims rights with respect to all of the proceeds of the vessels, which were beached and scrapped without regards to the applicants’ mortgage rights under the applicable facility agreements,” court papers lodged in the US state.

“In an apparent attempt to conceal the fraud as a mere cashflow insolvency, the holding company of the borrowers put itself into voluntary liquidation in Nevis,” the court papers note, adding: “However, the liquidator appointed by the Nevis court has thus far ascertained and confirmed that the fraudsters paid the sale proceeds of the mortgaged vessels to entities other than applicants.

Authorities in multiple jurisdictions have been alerted and the legal battle is set to continue.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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