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الرئيسية | استراليا | PICKING A FIGHT WITH A BILLIONAIRE OIL SHEIKH - RICK MITRY AND MIRNA MALLAK ACT FOR THE SHEIKH
المصنفة ايضاً في: استراليا, متري للمحاماة

PICKING A FIGHT WITH A BILLIONAIRE OIL SHEIKH - RICK MITRY AND MIRNA MALLAK ACT FOR THE SHEIKH

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المصدر: the Courier mail of Brisbane
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عدد المشاهدات: 5380
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Sheikh Hamad bin Hamden Al Nahyan with his lawyers Rick Mitry and Mirna Mallak from Beirut

IT IS a brave man who takes on a billionaire oil heir – and describes him as a “petulant child”.

 

It all started 12 years ago when Sheik Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan decided he wanted to sink some of his family’s oil money into Queensland property, according to the Supreme Court case file.

 

Little-known Gold Coast real estate agent Peter Beattie (not the ex-premier) agreed to help the sheik, whom he’d met in his palace in Abu Dhabi in the late ’90s, founding a company and sitting on the board with the sheik, part of the Al Nahyan family – one of the six ruling families of the United Arab Emirates. Worth around $20 billion, he’s one of the world’s largest car collectors with up to 400 cars and trucks.

 

Al Nahyan, 57, dipped his toe into Australian property when retail magnate Gerry Harvey sold him a shopping centre in Warwick, southwest of Brisbane, for $3.5 million in June 2005 and agreed to lease it back again. Two months later the sheik bought a cattle farm in Beaudesert for $2.9 million. Beattie, 68, who runs a consultancy based at Bundall, agreed to a management fee for leasing out the sheik’s Warwick shopping centre, but didn’t ask for other payment.

 

Later in 2005, Beattie went to Morocco and told the sheik he had spotted two Gold Coast villas in the ritzy beachside suburb of Main Beach, near the opulent Palazzo Versace, which the sheik might like to buy. By the time Beattie returned home, the sheik had wired over $2 million. Beattie bought a three-bedroom duplex in the sheik’s company’s name in January 2006, but curiously bought the other duplex in the name of his personal company. He claims the sheik agreed to this. The sheik denies it.

 

Beattie says it wasn’t bought in the sheik’s company’s name for “legal reasons” or due to “Foreign Investment Review Board restrictions”.

 

Their business relationship continued happily, and in 2007 the sheik splashed a further $12 million on a sprawling Northern Territory cattle property. By now he had spent more than $25 million on Australian property.

 

Over the years the generous sheik showed his appreciation for Beattie and his wife, showering them with watches and gifts worth $48,000 during visits to Morocco. But last year the harmony was shattered when their relationship started to fray and sheik decided he wanted to sell up, because he wasn’t making money.

 

The sheik’s lawyer, Rick Mitry, says Beattie banned the sheik from staying in the Beaudesert farmhouse during his visit.

 

Instead, he was told to bunk in a caravan. The sheik also noticed Beattie in a Maserati, and the Oakvale farm workers driving the sheik’s red MG sports car, stirring fears Beattie was treating him as a cash cow.

 

Beattie agreed to put all the sheik’s properties on the market, but five months later Beattie sent an email to the sheik with an extraordinary demand. He wanted $2.64 million.

 

“I have been the principal of your Australian company since 2003, that is over 4000 days,” he wrote. “In that time the company has paid my real estate business a management fee on the shopping centre. You have not paid rent at my office building. If I only administered the trust for one hour per day since 2003 (4000 days) (I am currently doing 14 hours most days for you) and you covered my normal charge out rate of $660/hr you would need to compensate me $2.64 million.”

 

The sheik refused to pay. When one of the Gold Coast townhouses was sold in October last year, it made a $35,000 loss. And earlier this month a buyer offered $960,000 to buy the second townhouse. Despite owning them for almost a decade, it appears the sheik won’t make a cent on the townhouses.

 

Then there were delays in sending the nearly $1 million sale proceeds to the UAE. The sheik was worried Beattie was stalling, so got his Brisbane lawyer to write to his Brisbane accountant.

 

“His Excellency has become increasingly concerned about ... the financial affairs of (the company).”

 

The sheik questioned why $1 million of company funds had been loaned to Beattie to buy the townhouse. Still not backing down, on December 13, Beattie’s wife Sandra upped the ante by also demanding cash.

 

“I have carried out all the administration tasks for the company ... I would like you to personally sent to me $1,109, 077.”

 

The sheik’s Brisbane lawyer emailed Beattie’s lawyer.

 

“My client will not pay Mrs Beattie that or any sum. If she wishes to sue for it, she should do so. To say that the claim is spurious is to an understatement”.

 

The sheik demanded Beattie repay $1 million for the Main Beach apartment bought with the sheik’s cash.

 

Beattie would later tell the Supreme Court his relationship with the sheik broke down because: “I was not telling the sheik what he wanted to hear. In my view the (sheik) was acting like a petulant child in late 2014 and early 2015.”

 

After Christmas, Beattie tried again to get cash from the sheik.

 

“If you want to take this matter to an Australian court we will insist you stand up in the witness box in person in Australia and be examined. I am willing to be examined. We have nothing to hide. The international TV and press will love it!”.

 

When that fell on deaf ears, Sandra again wrote: “Unlike you, I am not a billionaire so all these moneys must be paid to me to stop Australian court action against you personally in the future. Please have funds transferred to me ... by 1 April.”

 

Beattie said until he was paid, he would hold the sale proceeds of Oakvale farm at Beaudesert.

 

Beattie took the sheik to court in April, to ensure the $4.2 million sale of Oakvale could go ahead, after the sheik put a caveat over it. It sold in May.

 

The sheik has returned fire with legal action of his own claiming Beattie “deceived” him by buying the Gold Coast villa in Beattie’s company name. In his statement of claim the sheik claims Beattie “falsely claimed” he needed to buy one of the townhouse in his personal company, when in fact this was unnecessary.

 

Beattie claims all the properties were bought with “unsecured loans” from the sheik. Mitry says the sheik will meet with Pablo Kang, the Australian Ambassador to the UAE in January, to discuss the saga. The case is expected to be heard in the Supreme Court in Brisbane mid to late next year.

 

 

 

 

Mirna Mallak, an international legal advisor to the Sheikh, said:

 

“My client believes in the Australian judicial system and has faith in the Australian laws, hence the reason that he invests so heavily in Australia. My client's good reputation precedes him and the culture he was raised in and continues to cherish is that of a gentleman's word and trust. We are sure the Australian juridical system relates to such culture and respects it”.

 

المصدر: the Courier mail of Brisbane

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