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Top sharia banker commits 58 criminal offenses

November 15, 2011

Majid Al Refai was no ordinary bank employee–he was the managing director and founding chief executive officer of the billion dollar Bahraini sharia financial institution known as Unicorn Investment Bank.  Prior to that, Mr. Al Refai was the deputy CEO of UBS’s Islamic finance entity, Noriba.

Sharia finance CEO

After auditors released their findings, Unicorn sought to distance itself from Al Refai’s deeds, claiming that “The alleged criminal offences relate mainly to transactions by Mr. Al Refai which were not approved by the Board of Directors.”  Mainly, but perhaps not exclusively…  Here’s Unicorn’s press release from earlier this fall:

Towards the end of 2010, Unicorn Investment Bank submitted a criminal complaint against its former CEO, Majid Al-Refai, to the General Prosecutor of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The General Prosecutor subsequently commissioned renowned global advisory firm Deloitte to conduct an independent investigation into the matter. The Deloitte report concluded that there were 58 alleged criminal offences committed by Majid Al Refai during his tenure at Unicorn, and the General Prosecutor has now referred the case to the Criminal Court of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

It is important to note that several reports issued in 2010 by the Central Bank of Bahrain, PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Ernst & Young arrived at similar conclusions to those detailed in the above-mentioned Deloitte report. The alleged criminal offences relate mainly to transactions by Mr. Al Refai which were not approved by the Board of Directors of Unicorn; personally appropriating and squandering Bank funds; shredding and destroying over 8000 Bank documents; and deliberately preventing the Bank’s partners, associates and other authorized entities from accessing Bank documents, thereby contravening the laws of the Kingdom of Bahrain and the rules and regulations of the Central Bank of Bahrain.

The Bank has also filed two civil cases against Majid Al-Refai and two other former employees of the Bank to retrieve funds that were misappropriated. Consequently, the Bahraini authorities have placed two travel bans on Majid Al Refai in Bahrain. Furthermore, the General Prosecutor has instructed all banks in Bahrain to freeze Majid Al Refai’s assets.

Unicorn confirms that the above-mentioned legal proceedings, which are ongoing since September 2010, are all within the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and do not affect the ongoing operations of the Bank.

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