Luxury flats by Bin Laden's half brother cost Irish investors €2m
A BLOCK of luxury flats being developed by Osama Bin Laden's half brother in Dubai has left a group of Irish investors from Wexford and Clare nursing losses of €2m.
Sixteen Irish investors bought the apartments from plans, but have failed in a three-year battle to recoup €2m from lost rents at the uncompleted apartment project in Dubai which is being developed by Saudi construction magnate Sheikh Tarek Bin Laden.
The apartments were originally sold here largely by the now defunct Ennis-based property company Larionovo in 2006 and 2007 at prices ranging from €168,000 to €280,000.
Many buyers put their pensions into the development, which offered "rental guarantees" and which the developers claimed would "dwarf Disneyland".
The investors have fallen victim to Dubai's massive property crash, which is the worst in the world after Ireland. Their investment in the Kensington Royale scheme at Sports City in Dubai remains uncompleted four years after its original stated target date set in 2008.
The failed development was managed by MED which is headed by Bin Laden's half brother. Some investors told the Irish Independent they have not heard from MED representatives for more than a year.
In 2010, MED threatened to cancel investors' contracts if the investors failed to cough up further agreed payments -- despite MED's consistent failure to meet construction targets.
The investors who were reluctant to put in more money, assembled a group of 30 investors from Ireland and other countries to take action against MED, looking for compensation.
The group says it was thwarted by the refusal of the Dubai legal authorities to deal with a group action.
There were also changes made to Dubai law by the authorities in that year, which the investors say moved the goalposts on attempts to get refunds from unfinished schemes, like the Kensington Royale.
Because of this, many Irish buyers have been forced to make additional payments to MED since 2010 rather than lose out entirely.
One Wexford-based investor said: "The group action broke up after achieving no success and most of us went our own way. I engaged a British solicitor based in Dubai who has told me there's no reason why I shouldn't be entitled to my money back with interest. It's still ongoing with no sign of an end to it in sight."
A second investor, also living in Wexford, who paid €50,000 to MED, says he despairs of ever getting any money back. "At this point, I was supposed to have four years of rental income. A friend of mine who has been to Dubai and recently travelled out to the development says it looks three quarters finished but that the site appears to have been shut down completely with no activity taking place."