‘Fitch must review new Ras Al Khaimah evidence’, says UAE expert
“RAK’s last Fitch Rating was ludicrous. There was a complete failure to gather effective intelligence on the severity of corruption, judicial stability, political stability and human rights abuses”, Stirling added. “Not only has there been evidence tabled of money laundering, human trafficking and Iran sanction violations, but there is compelling evidence of human rights violations, torture and corruption.
“All of these elements make Ras Al Khaimah a volatile and dangerous place to invest in and rate as ‘safe’ to lenders. RAK’s strong rating seems so biased and out of touch, that it’s made quite a mockery of the rating system. Fitch risks appearing as a ‘pay to play’ financial body.
“There are cases of human rights abuses and torture being heard in international courts as well as the United Nations, and RAK has been credited as being one of the biggest abusers of the Interpol database. Yet, Fitch gave them the thumbs up in their last assessment.
“It’s beyond that. Sheikh Saud al Qasimi, the ruler, seized control of the Emirate in what can only be described as a ‘game of thrones’ episode that left him feeling vulnerable. His vulnerability led him to purge anyone he felt could possibly sympathise with his rival brother, who has been under house arrest since.
“We have collected substantial evidence of the torture of multiple foreign nationals, including evidence that has not yet been publicly released. There are two detainees who have taken legal action in the United Kingdom and United Nations over their own wrongful detention, forced confessions and torture. Then, we have multiple individuals who have been convicted in absentia through the ruler’s court where Sheikh Saud writes his own judgments.
“Evidence of sanction violations, laundering and corruption was presented to the United States a decade ago, but it was swept under the rug, giving RAK the green light to continue, until now. The climate has changed and as more and more witnesses and victims come forward, RAK’s violations are being brought to the table again.
“We simply can’t have a rogue state like Ras Al Khaimah going completely unchecked. We have raised these violations with key influential political figures in both the United States and United Kingdom, who have found the evidence disturbing. Once the evidence has been considered by Fitch, they can no longer naively endorse Ras Al Khaimah as a stable jurisdiction for lenders. It would be impossible.”
Stirling has conducted a five year long investigation of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, interviewing and working with key individuals within the RAK government, the ruler’s closest advisors, adversaries and victims.
Stirling and her clients have been targeted with hacking attempts and intelligence gathering operations as a result. “We have seen the extent to which the UAE will go to achieve their goals. There have been kidnappings from British soil, kidnappings from US yachts, threats, torture and executions. It’s disturbing that our ally has acted against US and British citizens, against their allies and that to date, the West has done little to curtail this behaviour. This can and must not continue”, added Stirling. “We can not have organisations like Fitch giving undue credibility to what is known locally as ‘the wild west of the emirates’.