All Corruption Cases Against Djibouti Multimillionaire Dropped

The High Court in London today dismissed all claims of corruption, bribery and fraud brought by the government of Djibouti against Djiboutian multimillionaire businessman Abdourahman Boreh – a crushing defeat for President Ismail Omar Guelleh who is contesting a fourth controversial term in the presidential election in April.

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Abdourahman Boreh
Abdourahman Boreh

Mr Justice Julian Flaux, in his judgement of over 260 pages, noted: “I have concluded that all the claims made by the claimants against Mr. Boreh and his company fail.”

Abdourahman Boreh
Abdourahman Boreh

At the start of the trial in the High Court on October 8, the Djiboutian government had 16 claims but these were reduced to three as the case progressed.

Mr Justice Flaux was not impressed by this. He said in his judgement: “…I cannot recollect a case in which so many claims (let alone ones involving allegations of dishonesty) have been pursued with such vigour and then abandoned at trial.

“No proper explanation has been advanced as to why they were pursued and then abandoned.

“I am left with the distinct impression that the Republic was intent on pursuing a scattergun approach against Mr Boreh of throwing as much mud as it could in the hope that something would stick, even though many of the matters were not ones in respect of which the Republic could have had a legitimate or sustainable claim.”

All along Mr Boreh had argued that the claims against him and an earlier false conviction of treason in 2009 were all part of a politically motivated campaign levelled at him by President Guelleh.

Mr Justice Flaux agreed: “This cynical approach to litigation is indicative of the political motivation which Mr Boreh contends lies behind this litigation.”

The government of Djibouti’s claims against Mr Boreh are related to the redevelopment in 2000 of the rundown and outdated facilities at country’s main port.

The cash-strapped government turned to Mr Boreh, who was a close friend of President Guelleh, to find investors to help raise the port’s standards in order to take advantage of lucrative financial opportunities that became available after Eritrea closed its facilities to landlocked Ethiopia following a bitter armed conflict between both countries.

Mr Boreh, using his own money and bringing in investors from Dubai, oversaw the construction of a new oil storage facility known as the Horizon Terminal, and a new state-of-the-art container terminal on wasteland.

His construction firm, Soprim, was hugely involved in the building project.

Mr Boreh brought in the experienced Dubai Port World (DPW) to manage the facilities, thus transforming the financial fortunes of Djibouti.

But the government claimed that Mr Boreh wrongfully acquired shares in the projects and was bribed by DPW to give the management contract to the Dubai-based port management company, all of which Mr Boreh denied.

On the issue of the Horizon shares, Justice Flaux noted: “I am entirely satisfied that Mr Boreh did not obtain the shareholding…because of any improper basis.

“He obtained it entirely properly for commercial reasons.”
He pointed out that President Guelleh was clearly aware of Mr Boreh’s shareholding at the time and he never objected to this.

Indeed, as a result of the sterling work that Mr Boreh had done, the president appointed him as Chairman of the newly created Port and Free Zones Authority – a position that he held without pay.

Mr Justice Flaux said the container terminal that Mr Boreh was involved in had turned out to be “a great success, both commercially and financially, for the Republic”.

Source: GNA

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