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Gütersloh/Bielefeld (dpa). Several companies for real estate funds in Dubai under the umbrella of the German investment company ACI signed bankruptcy on Friday. This handle the companies of Fund II to V and ACI IV Beteiligungs GmbH, was announced by the Amtsgericht Bielefeld. A provisional administrator will probably determined on Monday, it was said. Document number not issued yet.
The company had previously announced the bankruptcy. Reason was the price drop in real estate in Dubai, stressed ACI founder Uwe Lohmann. “Inevitable accounting depreciation of the carrying amount of the projects in Dubai” had then resulted in the bankruptcy.

The Fund VI and VII are not affected. ACI (alternative capital invest) have around 70 million investors money collected and distributed so far EUR 13.8 million. The building projects, several skyscrapers in Dubai, are “in unfinished construction”, said Lohmann.

After a determined the public prosecutor’s Office Bielefeld suspected of investment fraud against ACI for months.

In November 2009 the State company had Dubai acknowledged world, that he and his real estate subsidiary Nakheel which is known for the construction of the artificial island in Palm had accumulated debt of approximately $ 60 billion. Resulted in a significant loss of confidence by investors in the region of Dubai according to banks.

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) — Not long ago, British businessman Ryan Cornelius was living the high life, doing deals out of Bahrain and taking his family big-game fishing on his yacht and on safari in Kenya. He’s now into his third year in a Dubai jail cell, yet to be convicted of anything.

“The worst aspect of the way we’ve been treated is the fact that the legal system seems to be so suspended in its own inefficiency,” he said from a pay phone at Dubai’s Central Prison. “We just don’t seem to move forward. The whole legal system seems to hold you in a state of constant suspension.”

Cornelius, 56, and six co-defendants have been charged with defrauding Dubai Islamic Bank PJSC of $501 million, one of the largest such cases in the history of United Arab Emirates. He says he did nothing wrong, and like others, foreigners and nationals, who profited in Dubai in the boom times, he waits in prison as the legal system slowly tries to separate the guilty from the innocent of those arrested in an anti-corruption drive.

Dubai’s image as the Singapore of the Middle East, a global hub for finance and tourism, is being tested as it tries to clamp down on excesses such as fraud and overdevelopment, which came with an explosion of people and investment. Its judicial system still often has more in common with its regional neighbors than the Western nations that it aspires to emulate, say lawyers and economists who work there.

The government won’t say how many people have been arrested in the two-year campaign against financial corruption. Detained in Dubai, a London-based lobbying group, says several hundred executives may have been jailed.

Debtors’ Prisons

In all, about 40 percent of the 1,200 people in Dubai Central Prison have been convicted of defaulting on bank loans, Human Rights Watch said in a report in January. Even after completing their sentences, the New York-based group said, prisoners are likely to remain in jail until their debt is paid off, unlike in the U.S. or the U.K., where debtors’ prisons were abolished in the 19th century.

Over-lengthy sentences and a lack of specially trained judges to deal with white-collar crime threaten to discourage investment in Dubai, said Habib al-Mulla, the former chairman of the Dubai Financial Services Authority, an industry regulator. The U.S. State Department said in a March report that while the country’s constitution guarantees an independent judiciary, the U.A.E. court system remains “subject to review by the political leadership.” Defendants can spend months without being charged and are often unfairly denied bail, according to lawyers.

‘Damaging Effect’

“Our current criminal laws are not fit to deal with sophisticated financial crimes,” said al-Mulla, a lawyer who helped defend Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a U.S. lawsuit and now represents one of Cornelius’s co-defendants. New laws are needed “to protect bona fide businessmen from the abuse that some do face under the current legal system. This abuse has a damaging effect on the economy and the country.”

The Dubai government and the prosecutor’s office didn’t respond to repeated e-mailed and phone requests for comment during a three-week period.

The government started the anti-corruption drive as the global credit crisis cut Dubai home prices in half from their peak in 2008, the biggest drop in property values in the world. The city-state, the second largest of the seven emirates that make up the U.A.E., has amassed debts of more than $100 billion related to projects such as the world’s tallest tower and artificial palm tree-shaped islands built by developer Nakheel PJSC.

Some Freed

Some U.A.E. citizens arrested were freed after repaying what the government said they owed. The former governor of the Dubai International Financial Center, Omar bin Sulaiman, was released from prison in May following two months of detention after he returned about $14 million in bonuses, according to a government announcement. Hashim Al Dabal, the ex-chairman of state-owned Dubai Properties LLC, got out in June after eight months in detention by paying $35 million as part of an embezzlement investigation, the government said.

Others remain in prison as their trials inch along. Zack Shahin, a former PepsiCo Inc. executive from Ohio, has been incarcerated since March 2008, charged in the alleged $27 million embezzlement at property company Deyaar Development PJSC. Two Australian executives from Nakheel, Marcus Lee and Matt Joyce, spent almost half a year in jail without charges and are now on bail facing trial for misappropriating funds.

“In Dubai, they would prefer to keep them in custody to put pressure on them, to generally punish them and make life difficult for them,” said Robert Brown, a partner at London- based Corker Binning, which represented a Pakistani defendant whose extradition to Dubai from the U.K. was refused in March because a court ruled he faced possible torture.

‘Politically Charged’

In a statement earlier this year, Shahin’s lawyers said he was imprisoned without charges for 13 months, denied food, held in solitary confinement and often blindfolded, interrogated for 18 hours at a time and threatened with torture. They said Shahin, 45, is innocent and “a target of a politically charged investigation.”

Dubai’s attorney general, Essam Essa al-Humaidan, last year denied allegations Shahin, a U.S. citizen, has been abused, saying in an interview that Shahin and other defendants “have been granted all the rights under U.A.E. law.” The U.S. government has “repeatedly” raised Shahin’s case with the U.A.E. authorities, a State Department spokesman, who asked not to be identified because of the pending legal proceedings, said in an interview on July 23. Shahin’s case was last discussed in May at a Washington meeting between Attorney General Eric Holder and U.A.E. Justice Minister Hadef bin Jua’an Al Dhaheri, the spokesman said, when the U.S. asked the trial be conducted expeditiously.

Flight Risk

“Regardless of whether an individual is innocent or guilty, there should be due process and he or she should be charged in a timely manner,” Samer Muscati, a lawyer from Human Rights Watch who specializes in the U.A.E., said in a phone interview from Toronto.

With about 90 percent of Dubai’s 1.8 million population made up of foreigners, there is a “natural tendency to assume these individuals pose a flight risk,” said Carlos Gonzalez, a partner for Miami-based Diaz Reus LLP, which has worked on commercial disputes and fraud cases in the Middle East.

‘Psychological Pressures’

“In the U.S. it is common to see the courts in white- collar cases grant bail,” said Gonzalez, adding that keeping individuals in jail for several years during legal proceedings puts “psychological pressures” on them.

Investors are looking carefully at the rule of law in Dubai after the prosecutions of foreign executives, said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Riyadh-based Banque Saudi Fransi. “It is good they are taking some individuals to court, pursuing them, but the way they are pursuing them could impact Dubai.”

In Russia, lawmakers are revising the law on economic crimes, resulting in the possible early release of as many as 100,000 imprisoned executives and entrepreneurs as the government seeks to attract investors.

‘Fake Deals’

Cornelius and his co-defendants are accused of diverting funds from a $501 million trade-financing loan for projects such as the Plantation, a 20 million-square-foot development in the Dubai desert that was to include five polo pitches with stables for 800 horses, a luxury hotel and houses. The prosecution charges Cornelius and others forged documents and used the loans for “fake deals,” according to a court document.

“I absolutely deny all the allegations against me,” Cornelius said in a telephone interview from Dubai Central Prison on July 15.

Cornelius said the money was mostly used for property development in Bahrain and the relocation of an oil refinery from Canada to Pakistan as well as the Plantation in Dubai. He said he and the others reached a debt repayment agreement in 2007 with Dubai Islamic Bank. It took control of the Plantation, valued in mid-2008 at $1.1 billion by property broker Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., after the arrest of Cornelius and his associates.

Prison Life

He spends his time in a dormitory with about 100 other men. The conditions are an improvement over the several weeks he was in Rashidiya prison, where more than 250 prisoners shared six rooms meant for 48 and two working toilets, he said. Cornelius said he was held in solitary for six weeks after his arrest in May 2008. The yacht and his beach hotel in Kenya have been sold, he said.

Cornelius said he’s been denied bail a dozen times. The proceedings are in Arabic and difficult to follow though he has a court interpreter. Originally facing a maximum sentence of three years, Cornelius and the others could get up to 20 years in prison under Dubai’s tougher new anti-corruption law announced after his arrest.

Radha Stirling, a lawyer and founder of Detained in Dubai, which offers support to expatriates held in Dubai, said there has been a marked increase in detentions for financial crimes since last year. The majority of cases she is dealing with are debt related or because of bounced checks, which is a criminal offense in the U.A.E.

Image Tarnished

“I think a lot of people relocated to Dubai as an extension of Europe, like France, Spain or even the U.S.,” Stirling said. “It was seen as very developed with a good legal system. The average person who was once going there to seek employment or invest will shy away from Dubai.”

Rony Bacque, the business development manager for the Wine Academy of Spain, said he canceled plans to set up a branch in Dubai to offer training in wines for hotels and restaurants. His brother-in-law was named in an Interpol warrant for almost five years until this July after he was convicted in absentia for breach of trust in a Dubai business dispute, Bacque said.

The Dubai legal system is no better or worse than others in the region, said Gonzalez, the Miami lawyer. What is different, he said, is Dubai’s aspirations.

“You can’t wake up and say we’re working to have a world- class financial system overnight and build a legal system to match,” he said. “Dubai, as an aspiring global marketplace, must also endeavor to become recognized as a cutting-edge legal center capable of developing a legal structure that matches its financial ambitions.”

–With assistance from Camilla Hall in Abu Dhabi and Zainab Fattah in Dubai. Editors: Steve Bailey, James Amott.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Dubai at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

Grauer Kapitalmarkt grotesk: Eigentlich sollten im Luxushotel “Maritim Dubailand” längst Gäste wohnen. Auf dem Wüstengrundstück befindet sich aber bislang nur eine Baugrube. Deutsche Anleger haben den Hotelflop mitfinanziert. Einem jungen Finanzwirt aus Hamm vertrauten sie Millionen an.

Hamm/Dubai – Drei Kräne, ein paar Baucontainer und eine riesige Baugrube – viel mehr gibt es nicht zu sehen auf dem Grundstück im Hinterland Dubais. Nur wenige Arbeiter sind zu entdecken – sie machen nicht den Eindruck, als wollten sie sich verausgaben.

Was an gleicher Stelle zu dieser Zeit eigentlich geplant war, steht im Emissionsprospekt eines geschlossenen Immobilienfonds, des Hotelfonds Dubai 1000: Ein Luxushotel, ausgestattet mit 1000 Zimmern, 50 so genannten Ownersuiten und – als besonderem Bonbon – dem “Ein-Zimmer-Ein-Auto-Konzept”, bei dem die Übernachtungsgäste eigens bereit gestellte Fahrzeuge kostenlos nutzen können. Schon im Juli dieses Jahres hätte das Haus die ersten Besucher aufnehmen sollen.

Tat es aber nicht. Und auch in nächster Zukunft wird kaum ein Gast im Hotel “Maritim Dubailand” absteigen. Denn im Moment ist kaum absehbar, wann der Bau fertig gestellt wird.

Zahlreiche deutsche Kapitalanleger kommt das teuer zu stehen. Denn diese haben den Fonds mit reichlich Eigenkapital ausgestattet. Wie viel die Anleger genau zum Investitionsvolumen von insgesamt knapp 143 Millionen Euro beigesteuert haben, ist allerdings offen. Initiator Georg Recker aus Hamm in Westfalen macht dazu keine Angaben. Die 70 Millionen Euro, die laut Markterhebung des Analysten Stefan Loipfinger zusammengekommen sein sollen, werden von Insidern als zu hoch gegriffen angezweifelt.

So oder so steht der Beteiligungsmarkt, in dem Jahr für Jahr zweistellige Milliardensummen eingesammelt werden, damit allen Bestrebungen und Beteuerungen für mehr Transparenz, Professionalität und Seriosität zum Trotz einmal mehr am Rande eines Anlagedesasters größeren Ausmaßes.

Was ist passiert? Am Anfang standen – wie so oft – große Versprechungen. In Hundertschaften hatte Recker vor rund zwei Jahren Anleger und potenzielle Vertriebspartner in Dubai begrüßt. Der Junginitiator – Anfang 30, Typ Dampfplauderer und bis dato vor allem als Steuerexperte und Seminarveranstalter aufgefallen – hämmerte seinen Gästen an zahllosen Wochenenden die Vorzüge seines ersten Beteiligungsangebots ein. Dubai boomt, der Fremdenverkehr ebenso. Was läge da näher als ein Hotel in der Wüste zu bauen?

Das Projektteam löst sich in Luft auf

Aber nicht irgendeine Herberge sollte es sein. Diplom-Finanzwirt Recker wollte das größte Vier-Sterne-Hotel im arabischen Raum, mitten im Herzen des geplanten Mega-Freizeitparks “Dubailand” sollte es stehen. Ein neues Monument der Gigantomanie im an Superlativen ohnehin schon überfrachteten Dubai. Wenn schon, denn schon.

Viele waren auf Anhieb begeistert. Und die wenigen, die Bedenken äußerten, wurden von Recker und seinen Jüngern gnadenlos abgebügelt. Risiken? Gelächter!

Unter jenen, die sich tatsächlich beteiligt haben, herrscht inzwischen Ernüchterung. Von Reckers Versprechungen hat sich noch kaum eine bewahrheitet. Insbesondere die prognostizierten Ausschüttungen von durchschnittlich 10 Prozent pro Jahr sind nicht in Sicht.

Dabei sah das Vorhaben auf dem Papier zunächst wirklich vielversprechend aus. Eine Reihe prominenter Partner hatte Recker mit ins Boot geholt. Vom Edel-Interieur-Designer Bost in Berlin über die Siemens-Tochter SIAT sowie die weltweit renommierte Projektmanagementgesellschaft Drees + Sommer (“Zentrale Deutsche Post, Bonn”, “Aqua City Palace, Moskau”) bis zu Dewan, einem der führenden Architekturbüros im arabischen Raum, reichte die Liste der am Projekt beteiligten Unternehmen. Mit Maritim war auch schon ein namhafter Betreiber gefunden.

Inzwischen ist von Reckers Dreamteam nicht mehr viel übrig. Lediglich Designer Bost hält dem Jungunternehmer aus Hamm uneingeschränkt die Treue. Das Architekturbüro SIAT? Schon vor Monaten aufgelöst. Der Projektmanager Drees + Sommer? Recker kündigte den Vertrag bereits im April 2006 wegen angeblich mangelhafter Leistung.

Der Initiator stellt sich tot

Anfang dieses Jahres sprang mit Bernhard Ilming auch noch Reckers wichtigster Berater in Hotelfragen ab. Und die Maritim-Gruppe? Laut Informationen von Marktbeobachtern war der Vertrag mit der Hotelkette auf ungewöhnliche Weise zustande gekommen. Recker habe die Kooperation direkt mit der Maritim-Zentrale in Bad Salzuflen vereinbart, schreibt der Brancheninformationsdienst “Hottelling”. Der übliche Weg über den Maritim-Auslands-Entwicklungspartner HMS in Köln sei umgangen worden.

Jetzt teilt Maritim auf Anfrage mit, das Thema Dubai 1000 Hotelfonds werde gerade bearbeitet. Zurzeit seien definitive Aussagen dazu nicht möglich. Echte Vorfreude auf eine Hoteleröffnung klingt anders.

Die kann nach Einschätzung von Experten ohnehin frühestens in zwei Jahren aufkommen. Und das auch nur, wenn von nun an mit Hochdruck gearbeitet wird – wovon aber gegenwärtig keine Rede sein kann.

Von Georg Recker war zu alldem keine Stellungnahme zu bekommen. Insbesondere die Fragen, welches Unternehmen zurzeit die Bauarbeiten vor Ort betreibt und wann mit einer Hoteleröffnung zu rechnen ist, blieben unbeantwortet. Zu den offenen Forderungen seiner (Ex-)Geschäftspartner äußerte er sich ebenfalls nicht.

Gegenüber seinen Anlegern zeigt sich der Initiator dagegen wesentlich kommunikativer. Mit seitenlangen Schreiben versucht er sie bei Laune zu halten. Die Verzögerungen von “sicherlich 12 Monaten” seien auf eine verspätete Übergabe der Grundstücke in “Dubailand” zurückzuführen, schreibt Recker da. Er sei aber stolz, bereits einen 500 Meter langen Zaun errichtet sowie mehrere Baucontainer aufgestellt zu haben.

Weiter heißt es: “Die Hotels in Dubai sind mit mehr als 85 Prozent Auslastung voller Besucher von nah und fern. (…) Viele Besucher aus Kuwait und Saudi Arabien machen ihren Jahresurlaub mittlerweile in Dubai und nicht mehr in Europa.”

Wären die Anleger des Dubai 1000 Hotelfonds an einem anderen Hotel in Dubai beteiligt, würden sie sich über diese Informationen sicher sehr freuen.