The Court of Appeal in the United Arab Emirates has dismissed as unsubstantiated and frivolous, allegations of fraud made against a Canadian businessman by his Ghanaian partner.
The court said there was overwhelming evidence proving that Alistair Jude Mathias was totally innocent of the charges brought against him by the country’s public prosecutors, and in fact is rather owed more than USD $9.2 Million.
The three-member panel held that Mr Henry Osei’s complaint which formed the basis for the charges against Mr Mathias was founded on contradictory, unproven and unsubstantiated claims.
The Sharjah Second Penal Court of Appeal consequently ruled that “the misappropriation crime leveled against [Alistair] [are] totally void and there is no proof or even indication that [he] committed such a crime…”
The court found, that contrary to claims by the Ghanaian, Henry Osei, that his estranged business partner owed him $4 million, Mr Osei’sGuldrest Resources Ghana Company Ltd., rather owes Mr Mathias about $9.2 million.
Genesis of partnership
Alistair, a Canadian, resident in Dubai, says he arrived in Ghana in 2009/10 in search for investment opportunities and found mining as a worthy area to invest in.
He registered a company, M.A. Resources Ltd. in 2010 and acquired a concession in the Eastern Region.
In the course of transacting business in Ghana during 2011, he was introduced to Henry Osei and his business partner, both directors and shareholders of Guldrest Resources Company Limited, a local company involved in gold business with a vast network across the country.
Alistair says he started financing his new business partners to buy gold for his company in UAE, Mathias Holding.
All went well until 2012/13 when Henry Osei’s Guldrest Resources lost colossal amounts of money due to the sharp decline in gold prices.
In order to help Mr Osei out of his predicament, and upon the intervention of his partner, Alistair said he reluctantly agreed to form a company jointly with Mr Osei in UAE, Guldrest Resources FZC.
In 2014, however, and strangely, he said Mr Osei wrote to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police, accusing him (Alistair) of defrauding him to the tune of four million dollars. The complaint was made at a time when he was in Dubai.
“I immediately flew to Ghana to respond to the rather baseless claims made against me by a man whose company was owing me large amounts of money,” said Alistair.
Whilst dealing with the Ghana Police to prove that these were fabricated and baseless accusations, Alistair said, Mr Osei went to UAE and made a similar complaint to the police there in respect of the same matter, claiming that his company’s employee, Alistair, had absconded with his four million dollars.
According to court documents, Henry’s claims to the police were that as manager of Guldrest Resources FZC, Alistair could not account for $4,054,024.10 out of a total transaction volume of $83,927,240.10 “by way of…failing to send the value of the gold sent thereto…”
On the basis of this complaint, the Sharjah Public Prosecution, prepared a docket, appeared in the Sharjah Court of Misdemeanor seeking to try Alistair in absentia.
History of the cases
Unbeknownst to Alistair, he was charged with misappropriating the said amount belonging to Guldrest Resources FZC, UAE.
The case was heard in his absence and a judgment date fixed but he got into Dubai barely days before judgment and after failed attempts to prevent his flying out of Ghana.
The “Sharjah Court of Misdemeanor reviewed the case, in the presence of the appellant (Alistair) along with his [legal] representative, as well as the [legal] representative of the claimant (Henry) and upon asking about the charge leveled against him, he denied the accusation,” the appellate court said.
According to the court, Henry submitted an expert accounts report prepared by an “expert consultant.” The lower court itself appointed an accounting expert who concluded Alistair owed $3,638,504.24.
The Court of Appeal further stated that Alistair, raised “objections on the appointed expert report before the lower court because the expert relied on documents that were not translated and the expert did not seek the support of an expert in minerals specialized in gold.”
Despite these objections, the lower court proceeded to enter judgment in favour of the prosecution and Henry.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the lower court, the very next day after the judgment was given, Alistair launched his appeal to the Court of Appeal.
In response to Alistair’s objection to the reliance by the lower court on the report of an unreliable expert opinion, the Court of Appeal “appointed a tripartite committee of experts registered at the Ministry of Justice; two of whom are experts specialized in gold, and the third an accounting expert to investigate the case’s documents.”
The three-member committee set up by the Court of Appeal made revealing findings and pointed out fatal contradictions in Henry’s account of events.
To arrive at its unassailable conclusions, the committee told the court it “reviewed and investigated all documents provided,” examined “the amount of gold imported based on the statements issued by Dubai Customs,…and identified the net weight stated in the refining reports.”
The committee found out that contrary to Henry’s claim that the volume of transaction between the two of them amounted to $83m, “the net weight of the imported gold was 1,465,466.89 grams and the sale value was an amount of USD 59,048,584.28.”
“Alistair is a partner in Guldrest Sharjah, with paid-up capital in the company amounting to 50%. He is a director of the company while the other partner is Henry Osei with remaining percentage of 50% capital,” the committee found, dismissing Henry’s report to the police that Alistair was merely an employee.
Revealingly, the committee stated that “the concluded results of the previous expert report (on which the earlier judgment was based) were contradictory and conflicting.”
To that extent, the three-member committee said it couldn’t rely on those results, particularly because “they are unverifiable and given that they are based on [photo]copies of the documents provided thereto, [and] in addition to the fact that the information provided has not been produced through auditing references supported by documents…”The expert committee maintained that the documents provided by Henry and the prosecution were “contradicting in their invoices and payment requests for the invoices…and the values and gold quantities recorded in these invoices have proven to be incorrect, except the quantities and values included in the statement of Dubai Customs.”
In the view of the committee, the perfunctory documents submitted by Henry and reflected in the duplicated invoices and repetitions, rendered the evidence unreliable as the documents turned up “values amounting to USD 92,573,512.83 in some instances, and USD 86,573,512.83 in other instances and USD 69,142,711 in yet other instances.” Demands on Henry to provide the committee with “correct and accurate statement of his accounts” were never met, the court stated.
He, however, confirmed and acknowledged, as substantiated by the documents and statements submitted by him, that he received USD 79,873,216 from Alistair, even though the expert committee found and confirmed that the gold Henry’s company supplied amounted to $59m.
Having confirmed with documentary proof, other transactions between the companies of the two, the expert committee, excluding interest (as this was not agreed on any documents), determined that “Guldrest Ghana Company shall pay an amount of USD 9,215,561.14 in favour of [Alistair].”
The expert committee of the Court of Appeal rejected entirely, the claims of Henry that he is owed any money “because same could not be proven or substantiated through documentation,”
Adopting the expert committee’s report as part of its judgment, the Court Appeal unanimously allowed the appeal, cancelled the earlier judgment and issued “a new judgment ruling the acquittal of Alistair Jude Mathias from the charge leveled against him.”
Commenting on the judgment, Alistair said he was not surprised by the outcome of the case because the truth always prevails.
He said strenuous efforts have been made to tarnish his image, sully his reputation and undermine his business through scandalous, fabricated and libelous publications.
These he said must cease otherwise he would instruct his formidable legal team to institute crushing defamation suits against any media organization that persists in scandalising and maligning him unjustifiably.
“I have significant investments in Ghana and I’m not interested in litigating with the media but the false publications must cease,” he stressed.
He said he is in possession of threats sent to him by journalists promising to give him bad press, something he said is distasteful.
Meanwhile, sources close to the CID say their investigations into Henry’s allegations have tanked as nothing substantial has been given to them.
A lawyer contacted on this matter said he wondered how the police in Ghana can purport to investigate the Canadian whose former business partner falsely accused him of taking money from a company formed and operated in the UAE.
Nonetheless, Alistair says he is cooperating with the police even though he sincerely believes this is purely a civil matter.