Zadeh, a life-long resident of Dubai, said he selected Hasher as the
required UAE partner in Al Fajer Properties, established in 2004 and now
worth $2 billion. Zadeh said he and Hasher fell into a dispute amid delays
in building a billion-dollar office tower.
The economic downturn in the UAE has harmed a range of partnerships with
foreign investors. In Dubai, the commercial capital, police have detained
nearly 20 executives on suspicion of fraud. None of the detainees was
connected to the ruling Al Maktoum family.
"There is no room for corruption and the corrupt," Dubai ruler Mohammed
Al Maktoum said. "In all corruption cases, people are not only prosecuted
and punished, administrative and legal holes that they exploited to commit
their crimes are plugged. No one in the emirates is above the law and
Zadeh said Hasher, who ignored two summonses, exploited his connections
to the ruling family to have the Iranian arrested. In February 2008, Zadeh
was imprisoned for 60 days and pressed
to renounce links to Al Fajer.
As Zadeh languished in prison, Hasher was said to have taken over Al
Fajer and appointed his son chief executive officer. By the time, he was
released, Zadeh found that his office safe was ransacked and cleansed of any
documents that linked him to the company.
At one point, Zadeh appealed to Dubai's emir. He said the emir did not
respond to the complaint against his brother-in-law.
"We understand that Al Fajer Properties is controlled by a powerful
member of Dubai's ruling family," Moses Oye, who represents investors in
another Al Fajer project, said.
Still, Al Fajer continues to operate. On April 15, Al Fajer and the
Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency announced the first transfer of
property using a new official online system. Hasher's son, Maktoum, was
identified as president of Al Fajer. Zadeh was not mentioned.
Foreign investors have demanded an investigation of another Al Fajer
project, Ebony Ivory. The investors, alleging fraud, have called on the
Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency to force Al Fajer to issue a refund.
"We have paid approximately $140 million and have a signed contract from
Sheik Maktoum Bin Hasher Al Maktoum," Oye, who represents investors from
Britain, Canada, India, Iran, Pakistan and the United States, said. "Now, we
want our money back."