The full text of the letter issued by Bluebanana.com, owner and managing director, Simon Ford, on Wednesday:
Dear all bluebanana.com customers, suppliers, and people whose lives have been effected,
I wanted to write a letter to the Dubai public to apologise for the set of circumstances that have lead to the closure of bluebanana.com and my departure from Dubai. I am not trying to justify that what has happened is morally correct, it most certainly is not, but there is a very stark reality in doing business in UAE which unfortunately results in the most horrible decisions having to be made. We have continued to work with financial institutions and suppliers over the course of the last few days to see if the business can continue in some capacity, but this has now become impossible, resulting in the immediate closure of the business.
This letter is a formal and personal commitment to repay every last Dirham to everyone who is owed money from bluebanana.com. This includes every customer whose experience hasn't been honoured, our suppliers who have been so supportive over the last few years and have now been let down in an unprecedented way, every bank who has believed in us and lent us money, and of course every employee of bluebanana.com, all of which have worked so incredibly hard over the course of their time with the business and have been put through absolute hell during the last few weeks and certainly the last few days.
On a personal level, I have been through the most soul destroying and emotionally horrific 4 days of my life, and am likely to continue to do so for some time as my integrity is repeatedly called into question and rumours of me stealing people's money, amongst other accusations, grow out of control in Dubai. The reality is I have left with nothing but the simple fact that my business's failure has effected many people's lives in an unimaginable way and left many people burdened financially with unpaid dues. For this I am eternally sorry and am committed to taking personal responsibility to paying back everything that is owed, no matter how long this may take.
The unfortunate reality is that the businesses debt accumulation has grown exponentially since the last quarter of 2008, with further liabilities being accumulated with the desperate objective of keeping the business alive and avoiding what so many other businesses have done, simply stopped paying their staff. Tragically, the debt of the business reached a level on Thursday 18th June that personal threats were being made against me and my family which left me no choice but to leave 4 years of passion behind and take my family out of the country before start of business Sunday 21st June. I have since been informed that certain individuals arrived at my place of residence in Dubai at the start of Sunday, confirming that the follow through on many of the threats was very real.
I am not running away from debt, I am purely protecting those dearest to me and getting out of a country which, due to the lack of structured bankruptcy laws and a banking system which has zero flexibility on loan repayments, drives people to make horrible decisions.
During the course of this week, a large number of bank loan payments would have cleared from the bluebanana.com account which would have resulted in no cash left for my team to make their own financial commitments. Removing this cash has allowed payments to be made to creditors, plus money which is currently being transferred to employees accounts in Dubai. I apologise if this is viewed as the wrong thing to do, but I feel that my priority had to be to ensure that staff had something, if not all of their salary, together with short term loan payments to allow the restructure of personal liabilities over a longer period of time.
For those people who feel the need to create elaborate stories regarding my departure, this I suppose is inevitable, but I ask to you to consider the truth and watch as I fulfil my commitment to repay everything owed.
I have set up an email account for people to contact me with regards to specific outstanding payments, but will proactively contact all outstanding on our records over the course of the next 48 hours.
I am sorry Dubai