LONDON, January 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
Following a hearing that took place on the 17th and 18th November 2015, the DIFC Court has dismissed the application of Protiviti (the Defendant) to contest jurisdiction in the proceedings against them and awarded Mr. Mohammad Al-Mojil and Mr. Adel Al-Mojil (the Claimants/Messrs Al-Mojil) their costs.
These proceedings arise out of a report produced by Protiviti and commissioned by the Capital Market Authority of Saudi Arabia (CMA) following an investigation into the operations and financial reporting of the MMG (the Protiviti Report). MMG is a business involved in the construction of onshore and offshore facilities in the oil and gas industry.
In his judgment denying the request by Protiviti to dismiss or stay the proceedings filed by Messrs Al-Mojil, H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi noted that:
"…the Claimants have laid out a case in their Particulars of Claim dated 28 June 2015 outlining their cause of action as well as losses and damages incurred enough to articulate an arguable claim."
Maintaining that the more convenient forum to hear this dispute would be the DIFC courts, H.E. Justice Omar Al Muhairi also held the following:
- Not only is Protiviti registered and licensed in the DIFC, but there is no evidence in the pleadings whatsoever that it has any physical presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and it is clear that Protiviti has no license or office in the KSA.
- Additionally, the presence of the travel ban imposed on the Claimants in the KSA places a disproportionate obstacle in the way of the Claimants should the claim be litigated in the KSA.
- There is no reason to suggest that the DIFC courts cannot adequately deal with any issues of Saudi law that may arise.
Messrs Al-Mojil welcome the decision of the DIFC court to dismiss the Defendant's application. They categorically refute any allegations of wrongdoing made against them by the CMA relying on the Protiviti Report. The hearing of the substantive matter in their case against Protiviti is expected to take place at the DIFC courts in late 2016.
Background to the Proceedings
In 2008 MMG became a publicly traded company by way of an IPO when Mohammad Al-Mojil sold a 30% stake in the company. Trading in the company's shares was suspended on 22 July 2012 by the CMA after the company suffered significant losses.
In December 2012 the CMA appointed Protiviti to conduct an investigation into the operations and financial reporting of MMG for the period of 2005 to 2012. At the conclusion of the investigation, Protiviti was to produce a report dealing in particular with whether any fraud or other misconduct had occurred. Protiviti delivered the Protiviti Report to the CMA on 30 June 2013.
Following this, on 18 November 2014, the CMA issued a charge sheet in Saudi Arabia against the Claimants, which made various allegations against the Claimants and others in relation to the IPO of the shares in MMG. As a result of the charge sheet, several sanctions were imposed against Messrs Al-Mojil, as well as the businesses owned by them, including: freezing substantial assets in KSA; restrictions placed on the transfer of assets; and a travel ban preventing them from leaving KSA should they ever enter the country.
On 28 July 2015 Messrs Al-Mojil filed a claim with the DIFC courts against Protiviti alleging that the Protiviti Report was outside the scope of its DIFC licence and contains significant material errors, misrepresentations and untrue statements. Furthermore, that the Report is defamatory and contains arbitrary and unproven allegations. The Claimants are seeking USD 3,438,177.35 in damages, delivery of the Report, and costs.
For full copy of the Order see:http://difccourts.ae/cfi-020-2015-mohammad-bin-hamad-bin-abdul-karim-al-mojil-another-v-protiviti-member-firm-middle-east-limited/