Drake & Scull was one of the biggest names in the region's contracting space before revelations came out that it had been under reporting losses through the years. It led to a management clear out and brought in new investors. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The founder of Drake & Scull International, the Dubai engineering firm, still has pending civil and criminal cases in the UAE, according to a statement issued by the company.

In particular, there are 15 criminal cases registered with the UAE’s Federal Public Prosecutor, the statement added, against Khaldoun Al Tabari, his daughter Zina and other former DSI officials. The statements came after news broke in Jordan, where Al Tabari is based currently, that courts there had acquitted him and Zina from all cases brought against them by the Jordanian public prosecutor.

"In Jordan, the company (DSI) made no attempt to seize Al Tabari’s assets; however, in the UAE, the situation is different and the Courts have frozen his assets under the instructions of the Federal Public Prosecutor," the statement added.

It was in January last year that Al Tabari was stopped from travelling outside the country while at the Amman airport. The stoppage was based on a request filed by the UAE authorities. 

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Still clouded

Drake & Scull, which is under new management now, has been working on a possible agreement with its lenders and other creditors. A restructuring plan hinges on the company securing those deals. It was expected that some idea of what the plan entails would be revealed before year end. (In the interim, Drake & Scull did win projects, sold off some assets, and also recorded some improvement in its results. But until such time a definitive agreement is reached with lenders, the immediate future will still seem a bit uncertain.)

Why this is such a big deal

Bringing back the company – which at one time had historical losses exceeding Dh5 billion – will be important for the UAE’s construction sector, which simultaneously is dealing with the bankruptcy of Arabtec, at one time one of the region’s biggest contractors.

The hiding of the true losses from financial statements was revealed in 2019, which was when Drake & Scull launched internal investigations against the founder, other senior management, and others. Following these, cases were presented before the federal prosecutor.