Oaktree Executive Avoids UAE Extradition Over $264 Million

Updated on
  • U.K. prosecutor says insufficient case against Martin Graham
  • Graham was accused of stealing $264 million from a contractor

An Oaktree Capital Group LLC executive wanted by United Arab Emirates authorities in a $264 million embezzlement case won’t be extradited after U.K. prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to back up the warrant.

A London judge on Tuesday dismissed the warrant against Martin Graham -- a senior vice president at the world’s largest distressed-debt investor -- after the Crown Prosecution Service said there was no case to answer. Graham, wearing a gray suit and blue and white spotted tie, sat quietly in the back of the courtroom and declined to comment after the hearing.

The 37-year-old was arrested in June after the UAE issued an extradition request accusing him of stealing $264 million from engineering contractor Gulmar Offshore Middle East LLC between June 2014 and April 2015. He was found guilty by a UAE court and sentenced in absentia in August 2015. He said he wasn’t aware of the conviction until November 2015 when he was told by a third party.

“The British prosecutors’ decision affirms what Oaktree has known all along: that Martin acted entirely appropriately and professionally throughout the GOME restructuring,” John Frank, vice chairman of Oaktree, said in a statement. “We’re pleased to see the record set straight and this injustice begin to be remedied."

Commercial Dispute

The arrest stemmed from a commercial dispute between Oaktree and a former director of Gulmar Group, Oaktree said previously. Graham’s lawyer, James Lewis, told the court Tuesday that the UAE case had been "improperly manipulated" for commercial gain.

Lewis asked the judge to provide an order documenting the U.K. decision to rescind the warrant to inform the UAE court that convicted Graham. Graham’s lawyers are seeking to have his conviction vacated.

The commercial dispute between Oaktree and former Gulmar director Jean-Michel Tissier relates to an arbitration award given to GOME over the unlawful seizure of a group of vessels in Venezuela. Tissier claims he is owed some of the money from the award and made a criminal complaint against Graham, who was a managing director of GOME at the time of the arbitration proceedings, alleging he stole money from the company. It was Tissier’s complaint that led to Graham’s conviction.

(Updates with more details from court in second paragraph.)
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