Kuwaiti fund and Dubai bank in dispute over frozen assets

The Port Fund, a Kuwaiti investment firm specialising in logistics developments, is pressuring UAE authorities to help unfreeze close to $500 million of its assets which are currently sitting in a bank in Dubai.

The dispute began a year ago in November 2017 when the proceeds from an investment in the Philippines due to be distributed to the fund’s shareholders and creditors were instead held in the Noor Bank in Dubai.

Allegations of embezzlement against senior executives at the Port Fund led Kuwaiti authorities to request the money be frozen and it has remained in Dubai ever since.

The authorities’ position has since softened agreeing that the money can be released provided that two of the state-owned shareholders, the Kuwait Port Authority (KPA) and the Public Institution for Social Security (PIFSS), are paid first. However, the arrangement has not yet been approved by the Dubai attorney general.

The fund has even called on some well-connected figures from the US to help its cause. According to a report from Forbes, Neil Bush, brother of former US president George W Bush, has written to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, to ask for his assistance.

In the letter, written in September, Bush asked that “the closing funds be properly released by Noor Bank” adding that the episode “blemishes the international financial banking system and runs counter to the banking standards that have facilitated meaningful investment from US-based entities to Dubai and the Middle East”.

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