African govt in $56m court case in Singapore

African govt in $56m court case in Singapore

The government of a small African country is seeking to recover more than US$45 million (S$56 million) in assets allegedly placed in a trust in Singapore by one of its former public officials.

Mr Abdourahman Boreh was president of the board of directors of Djibouti Port and Free Zone Authority (DPFZA), which was tasked with developing a free trade zone, when he allegedly used his influence to get contracts and commissions for companies linked to him and benefited from the profits.

The Djibouti government is now seeking to trace and recover the money he made while working as a public servant and prohibited from engaging in private business.

In February, Mr Boreh set up a trust here through Portcullis Singapore, to place the shares of a British Virgin Islands company he owned - allegedly for the benefit of his seven children. This company, Net Support, in turn held shares in Horizon Djibouti Holdings - formed to develop the free trade port - allegedly worth up to US$62 million.

Senior Counsel Cavinder Bull, for the Djibouti government, applied at a closed-door High Court hearing here last week to freeze assets in the "Gorgor Trust", until the Singapore court suit is settled.

The move to set aside the trust is in tandem with a court order obtained in London last month to freeze his assets for a sum of up to US$111.5 million.

The Djibouti government argued his role as a public servant prevented him from holding other private sector posts and earning profits without clearance. Two of his companies - Boreh Holdings and Boreh International - are said to have acquired an indirect 25 per cent interest in Horizon Djibouti Terminal, an oil, gas and chemical storage facility.

The Djibouti government claimed he acquired it thanks to his government role. Mr Boreh denies the allegations and claimed he had the right to operate his own businesses while he was DPFZA president.

The businessman, who is based in Dubai and London, is now a leading opposition political figure.

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