British National and Oaktree Capital Group Executive Martin Graham, has been convicted in absentia in a Sharjah Court of stealing $264 million dollars from an engineering contractor. Graham has since been arrested in the UK after an Interpol notice was issued. He appeared last week in Westminster Magistrates Court and has been provisionally released pending further proceedings.
Oaktree fully supports Martin Graham and expects that the conviction will eventually be overturned. However, this can not happen in the event that he does not return to the UAE to appeal the decision. We do not anticipate that Graham will be extradited, given the grave human rights violations that are particularly evidenced in Sharjah Prison. However, the extradition application will need to be vigorously defended.
In our decade of service, we have assisted many high profile businessmen who have been victims of injustice and false accusations. A number of them have been imprisoned then later acquitted while others have only been released, after international pressure has forced the UAE judiciary to review the evidence and, in doing so, found that the Judges had not taken supportive evidence into account, most likely due to local influences.
Countless businessmen remain in prison despite their innocence, often due to prominent local companies or individuals exuding their power and influence over the judiciary.
It is far too easy for someone to make an accusation and achieve a conviction in the UAE, leaving the system open to abuse and manipulation. We have seen people use the threat of criminal action to extort funds. Even where the party is innocent, they know that innocence will not equal their freedom.
As an organisation, we have assisted in many extradition matters over the years and fortunately, have not seen one of our clients returned. This should be a wake up call to the UAE that they need to improve their judicial practices and take human rights seriously.