Geeska Afrika Online

Djibouti: Payments Issued on Behalf of the Republic

DJIBOUTI (HAN) November 27, 2015 – Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. The Republic of Djibouti concludes its cross-examination of Mr Abdourahman Boreh and DP World Witnesses in UK High Court case

London, November 25, 2015: Recently, the Republic of Djibouti’s leading counsel completed his cross-examination of Abdourahman Boreh, the former Chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, and of a number of witnesses from the port operator, DP World. During the four-day cross-examination before the High Court in London, the Claimants accused Mr Boreh of taking bribes from DP World to help get more favourable business terms for Dubai in their dealings with the Republic of Djibouti.

Claimants put to Mr Boreh that by accepting bribes from the Dubai state entities, he breached his duty as a representative and lead negotiator for Djibouti and undermined Djibouti’s position in relation to the construction, operation and management of the Doraleh Container Terminal.

Specifically, the Republic of Djibouti put to Mr Boreh that he deliberately concealed information from the Government, and that he secretly procured for himself improper payments. Facing these questions, Mr Boreh conceded that he received $500,000 a year from DP World in the form of a “consultancy fee” – through an offshore company controlled by him, ‘S Flame.’ He also admitted that DP World paid these amounts into Swiss bank accounts.

The money transfer documents were provided to the Republic by the Swiss authorities. On examination of the consultancy contracts, it was apparent that the purported services were never provided — and if they were, they were provided secretly and in breach of his duties. The judge referred to these contracts as “shams.”

During his testimony, Mr Boreh did not dispute that through payments under the S Flame Consultancy and another security services contract, Mr Boreh received more than US $1.3 million from DP World. Mr Boreh admitted in court that he did not inform the President of the existence of the contracts, or of the payments, claiming that he did not “think it was necessary.”

Similarly, Mr Boreh secured for himself—without informing the President— the promise of a 15% share of DP World’s local subsidiary, DP World Djibouti, which was Djibouti’s joint venture partner in the Doraleh Container Terminal. In turn, Mr Boreh would receive an indirect 5% share of the Doraleh Container Terminal, first for $1, and then at a massive discount on the market price.

By securing this ownership interest for himself, Mr Boreh expected 5% of the dividends and 15% of DP World’s management fee for the duration of the 50 year concession agreement. At the same time, Mr Boreh accepted a mere 5% royalty fee for the Republic, with no evidence advanced that at any point that he attempted to negotiate a higher royalty for the Republic that was more in line with industry norms.

When the Republic’s barrister put the consultancy and share contracts to the witnesses from DP World, including the former country manager and a representative for their international operations, they each said they knew nothing of these agreements, and could not comment on whether the payments made under them were bribes.

Mr Boreh notably failed to present any senior-level official from DP World to rebut the bribe allegations. Indeed, the judge specifically noted their absence: “There is no Mr Mohammed Sharaf CEO, DP World, for example, no Sultan [Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World.” The judge went on to note that “we get the finance director who was a very nice chap, but couldn’t really help.”

With regards to the Horizon Oil Terminal, another development project in Djibouti overseen by Mr Boreh, Mr Boreh negotiated with ENOC and obtained for himself a 30% shareholding in the Terminal whilst securing only a 10% stake for the Republic.

Mr Boreh then received payments under another “Consultancy Agreement”, which again bore no resemblance to any actual services. When the Claimant’s counsel called the contract “bogus,” Mr Boreh replied, “I did not draft these documents, I don’t read documents. As far as they pay me, I signed.”

Mr Boreh claims that the Republic of Djibouti’s case against him is politically motivated and that he had been oppressed by the President since 2007. Yet under cross-examination, Mr Boreh admitted that he did not get involved in politics until after he left Djibouti in 2008.

He also conceded that on leaving Djibouti in 2008 he was on good terms with the President: “We left in peace, we left on good terms.” Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Mr Boreh did not explain why the President would even consider him a presidential rival— as under Djibouti’s 1992 Constitution, dual nationals like Mr Boreh are ineligible to run for the Presidency.

Despite his admissions in cross-examination, Mr Boreh continues to deny the allegations brought against him. The trial continues with closing arguments to be made in the coming weeks.

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Source: diplomat


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