UAE’s RAKIA to appeal case brought by Farhad Azima over alleged hack

The Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authority has denied claims it hacked the emails of Farhad Azima. (Shutterstock)
Updated 03 June 2018
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UAE’s RAKIA to appeal case brought by Farhad Azima over alleged hack

  • Investment Authority to challenge US decision to hear hacking claims
  • RAKIA says allegations from Farhad Azima are "complete fiction."

LONDON: A UAE investment agency plans to appeal a US court decision to hear computer hacking claims brought against it by Iranian-American businessman Farhad Azima.
The Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA), the investment arm of the emirate in the north of the country, told Arab News it would appeal a lawsuit brought by Azima in the Washington federal court, which accused the UAE fund of hacking his computer and posting the files on the Internet.
“Mr. Azima falsely claimed, in an obvious distraction tactic (from UK proceedings against him), that RAKIA or its agents hacked his computers and put his information on the Internet,” RAKIA said in a statement to Arab News.
It is the latest development in a web of lawsuits that have arisen from the efforts by the investment agency to recoup billions of dollars it claims were misappropriated in several deals involving former RAKIA CEO Khater Massaad and his associates.
“The Government of Ras Al-Khaimah believes that the decision by a US district court to assume jurisdiction over the frivolous lawsuit brought by Farhad Azima against the Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authority is erroneous, and (it) has appealed the decision,” RAKIA said.
The US case follows an action brought by RAKIA in London against Azima that alleges he secured secret payments during the planned sale of a Sheraton hotel in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
RAKIA had tried to get the claim thrown out of court in the US earlier this year, but its motion to dismiss was rejected by US District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on March 30.
Now it plans to appeal the decision.
“Mr. Azima’s claim in the US case that the Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authority or its agents hacked his computers and put his information on the Internet is a complete fiction,” RAKIA said in its statement.
“To the extent that the US courts continue to exercise jurisdiction over Mr. Azima’s claims, the Ras Al-Khaimah Investment Authority looks forward to clearing its name there.”
The case brought by RAKIA in London against Azima relates to two deals — including the aborted sale of the Sheraton Metechi Palace Hotel in Tbilisi from the agency’s Georgian unit to a company owned by Houshang Hosseinpour, another Iranian businessman.
RAKIA alleges that Azima took what it describes as a “secret commission” on the planned sale.
The UAE investment agency also claims that Azima paid the then CEO of RAKIA Georgia, Khater Massaad, a fee of $500,000 to help steer the deal through.
But Azima in turn alleges that a lawyer acting on behalf of RAKIA had warned that the businessman risked becoming “collateral damage” if he did not assist the agency in its pursuit of Massaad.
Farhad Azima was not immediately available for comment.


Iraq slams Exxon for evacuating staff amid Gulf tensions

Updated 32 min 38 sec ago
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Iraq slams Exxon for evacuating staff amid Gulf tensions

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Sunday slammed as “political” a decision by US energy giant ExxonMobil to evacuate staff from a southern oil field after Washington ordered personnel to quit its Baghdad embassy.
“The temporary withdrawal of employees has nothing to do with security in southern Iraqi oil fields or any threats,” Oil Minister Thamer Al-Ghadban said.
“The reasons are political and probably linked to tensions in the region,” he added in a statement released by the oil ministry.
Ghadban called the move to pull out staff from the West Qorna oil field west of the southern port city of Basra “unacceptable and unjustified.”
Exxon did not confirm the withdrawal.
“We are closely monitoring. As a matter of practice, we don’t share specifics related to operational staffing at our facilities,” a spokeswoman said.
“ExxonMobil has programs and measures in place to provide security to protect its people, operations and facilities. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors at all of our facilities around the world,” she added.
On Wednesday the United States ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy and Irbil consulate, citing an “imminent” threat from Iranian-linked armed groups in Iraq.
It came 10 days after the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier task force and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to fend off an unspecified alleged plot by Tehran to attack US forces or allies.