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Home / ANALYSIS / Is DIFC Courts’ latest ruling good news for MMG?

Is DIFC Courts’ latest ruling good news for MMG?

by James Morgan on Sep 4, 2016


Legal technicalities: Could a decision favouring the Al-Mojil family in DIFC Courts form part of a future appeal in Saudi Arabia?
Legal technicalities: Could a decision favouring the Al-Mojil family in DIFC Courts form part of a future appeal in Saudi Arabia?

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Earlier this year, Construction Week published an analysis piece on the legal battle surrounding the misrepresentation of Mohammad Al-Mojil Group’s (MMG) value (‘The case that nobody won’, CW 616).

The long-running dispute stretches back to July 2012, when the publicly traded contractor incurred significant losses. It was at this point that the kingdom’s Capital Market Authority (CMA) suspended trading of MMG shares on the Saudi Stock Exchange, Tadawul.

In June 2016, the CMA’s Committee for the Resolution of Securities Disputes (CRSD) imposed prison sentences on three MMG executives, including the company’s founder, Mohammad Al-Mojil, and his son, Adel Al-Mojil. Messrs Al-Mojil both received five-year custodial terms for misrepresenting MMG’s value, and a third unnamed executive was sentenced to three years in prison.

Yet ever since the CMA first launched its investigation into MMG’s operations and financial reporting in 2013, the Al-Mojils have denied any wrongdoing – and in the strongest possible terms. The family’s primary objections centre on a report conducted by financial consultancy, Protiviti Member Firm (Middle East) Ltd, at the behest of the CMA.

Messrs Al-Mojil argue that the CMA’s investigation relied “almost exclusively” on Protiviti’s report – a document that they claim contains serious errors and misrepresentations.

A statement released on behalf of the family earlier this year said: “Messrs Al-Mojil have brought legal proceedings against Protiviti in relation to [its] report. They allege that Protiviti lacked even a licensed capacity to undertake the work. Furthermore, they allege that the report contains significant material errors, misrepresentations and untrue statements, and is defamatory, making arbitrary and unproven allegations. These proceedings are currently ongoing in the DIFC [Dubai International Financial Centre] Courts.”

Protiviti, which is registered in DIFC, is reported to have responded to the aforementioned legal proceedings by objecting to the validity of the Al-Mojil family’s case. However, last week, it emerged that the consultancy’s appeal had failed.

A statement issued on behalf of the Al-Mojil family revealed that Protiviti’s appeal, which related to the earlier decision of HE Justice Al Muhairi, had been dismissed in the DIFC Courts. Justice Sir Richard Field, who delivered the latest judgement, said that the primary issue to be determined during the full hearing – scheduled to take place in Dubai in 2017 – would be “whether Protiviti’s conclusions were inaccurate, having been negligently arrived at due to a failure to conduct a competent and thorough investigation”.

The statement also claimed that Protiviti has been instructed to meet the costs incurred by the Al-Mojil family during the original hearing and subsequent appeal. Construction Week contacted Protiviti for comment, but received no reply.

DIFC Courts’ latest judgement does not relate to the validity of the Al-Mojils’ claims that Protiviti acted “negligently and libellously” in its investigation of MMG and its management. It simply confirms that the case that the family has brought against the consultancy will be heard in the UAE next year.

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