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UAE-based real estate broker ACI Group has denied stories in German business media that the company’s CEO Robin Lohmann has been jailed.

Trade title Financial Intelligence Service last week reported that Lohmann has been under investigation by the Dubai police.

The paper stated that four independent sources had confirmed Lohmann had been taken into custody for one night, had surrendered his passport to the authorities, and was not allowed to leave the country before the debts of ACI Dubai were settled.

Real estate companies have been battered by the collapse in property prices in the UAE, which has led to several master developments grinding to a standstill.

Sub developers with projects within these master developments have been battling to satisfy investors who have paid deposits for property that is not currently being built, while struggling to pay contractors on jobs that are ongoing.

Last week a senior executive of Khoie Properties, the developer behind a $550 million project on Ras al Khaimah’s man-made island of Al Marjan, was handed a three year jail sentence for bouncing two cheques totalling over $30 million.

An official from ACI, who spoke exclusively to Arabian Business but would not be named or directly quoted, said that reports in the German business press about Lohmann’s arrest, and rumours circulating in the Gulf that he had fled the country, were not true.

ACI Group is a German-based company that entered the Gulf market in 2004 with a multi-million dollar marketing programme for a succession of projects and established a glamorous headquarters – a large converted beach villa that overlooks the Arabian Gulf.

High profile projects in the emirate included tie-ups with F1 racing legend Michael Schumacher and former Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker.

The office is still functioning, as Arabian Business discovered when it visited the premises last week. Mr Lohmann was not available for a meeting and has not returned our calls.

A company spokesman mounted a robust defence for ACI, noting that, unlike many other developers who had already fled the country, ACI was still operating and construction work was ongoing. The company’s web site, he said, showed pictures of ongoing construction work that proved work is progressing.

There are 19 projects promoted on the web site, but only seven have “construction updates” that show progress on building sites.

The remainder, which includes the Boris Becker Beach Resort & Tennis Academy in Ras Al Khaimah, have no construction updates on the web site.

ACI said that no refunds were being paid to investors because projects have been postponed, not cancelled, but added that investors were not required to pay additional instalments until construction work restarted.

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