Oaktree Executive in London Arrested in $264 Million UAE Dispute

  • Martin Graham arrested on warrant from United Arab Emirates
  • Graham accused of stealing from Gulmar Group arbitration

An Oaktree Capital Group LLC executive in London is facing extradition to the United Arab Emirates after being arrested and accused of stealing $264 million from an engineering contractor.

Martin Graham appeared at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 21 after UAE authorities issued a warrant, according to a court spokesman. Oaktree, the world’s largest distressed-debt investor, said Monday the claims are "meritless" and the firm "fully supports" the 37-year-old Briton.

The arrest stems from a commercial dispute between Oaktree and a former director of engineering company Gulmar Group, Oaktree said. Jean-Michel Tissier alleges Graham, in his capacity as an Oaktree employee, stole money from an arbitration payout to a Gulmar unit in relation to vessels that had been unlawfully seized in Venezuela. Tissier claims he’s entitled to some of the funds.

The Financial Times reported on the dispute earlier today.

Tissier previously made a criminal complaint in a Sharjah court against Graham and, although Graham didn’t receive any notice of the charge, he was found guilty in absentia by the court on Aug. 13, 2015, and sentenced to three years in prison. He wasn’t notified of his conviction until November 2015, when he was alerted by a third party.

"Graham intends to resist his extradition through the legal process and Oaktree fully supports him," said a spokesman for Oaktree in an e-mailed statement. "Oaktree further expects the conviction, which lacks any factual basis, will ultimately be overturned or withdrawn.”

Graham remains free on bail until a hearing next month, according to the court. Prior to joining Oaktree in 2007, Graham worked at law firm Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., according to his profile on the firm’s website.

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