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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Domestic arrests: IPIC's ex-MD Khadem Al Qubasi taken into custody in Abu Dhabi

Quoting people familiar with the matter, WSJ had just reported that Abu Dhabi authorities have arrested Khadem Al Qubaisi,  the 14th most powerful man in the Arab world in 2015.

"The arrest last week was made in relation to an Abu Dhabi investigation into fraud and corruption, which includes Mr. Qubaisi’s alleged role in the 1MDB, affair," WSJ said.

But no charges have been filed against Khadem.

The part that I found most intriguing is that WSJ also said that "the U.S. investigators are also probing the financing of a mega yacht controlled by Sheikh Mansour called the Topaz, which at 482 feet is the world’s fifth largest, according to people familiar with the investigation."

This was the yacht that Jho Low and Leonardo Dicaprio had used to watch the World Cup Finals in Brazil in 2014. It is widely known that it belongs to Sheikh Mansour.

WSJ also alleges that the US Govt is investigating if funds from 1MDB was also used to fund the expansion of "night club" chain Hakkasan.

Founded in 2001 by Hong Kong born Alan Yau - a Hakka Chinese, Hakkasan became the two trendiest Chinese restaurants in England. Hakkasan could mean Mountains of Hakka in Cantonese.

The two Hakkasan restaurant was sold for US$60 million to the then reported Abu Dhabi state company of Tasameem in January 2008 - way before Najib became PM or 1MDB even existed.

It was rumoured to have been sold after Sheikh Mansour had a meal there and was so impressed. Later in that year, Sheikh Mansour bought the Manchester City Football Club.

Hakkasan then went on a large-scale international expansion to become a global lifestyle chain which included night clubs.
Hakkasan's famous nigh-club in Las Vegas MGM
H.H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidency Affairs in the United Arab Emirates Cabinet. He is also the Chairman of IPIC and is considered the second or third most powerful man in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Mansour, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of IPIC. Also owner of Man City.

He is the half brother of the current President of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi,

President of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed - half brother of Deputy President Sheikh Mansour 

The 2013 JV signing between Aabar and 1MDB - represented by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and half-brother to Sheikh Mansour, Chairman of IPIC
Since suffering a stroke in 2014, the president of UAE Khalifa had rarely been seen in public with most of his official duties seems to taken over by the crown prince.

It is widely believed that Khadem Al Qubasi is a loyalist of Sheikh Mansour,

Even in the 2008-2009 as Euromoney had reported citing documents, Khadem held shares and options on behalf of Sheikh Mansour worth billions of pounds during the very profitable bail out of England's Barclay's Bank from the subprime crisis which they profited by about £3 billion within a couple of years.

As of 2011, according to the Guardian, Sheikh Mansour had a net worth of USD34 billion U.S. dollars and has owned Manchester City F.C. since 2008.

If it is true that the Abu Dhabi govt had arrested Khadem but strangely not charged him, then it adds an interesting domestic political angle to the 1MDB and IPIC story.

It would be interesting to see how this plays out as how it plays out will also affect 1MDB and the ongoing arbitration between IPIC and 1MDB in London.