Failed gifts company boss tells of threats, flees Dubai

Bluebanana.com chief apologises after firm goes bust, leaving large debts in emirate.
By Soren Billing
Wed 24 Jun 2009 04:35 PM

The owner of an events and alternative gifts company in Dubai has written an emotional letter to customers and suppliers after fleeing the country on fears that UAE bankruptcy laws could land him in jail.

Simon Ford, the owner of Blue Banana.com, apologised in the letter for leaving the country after the firm’s debt had grown “exponentially”, but pledged to repay every last dirham of its debt.

“Tragically, the debt of the business reached a level on Thursday June 18 that personal threats were being made against me and my family, which left me no choice but to leave four years of passion behind and take my family out of the country,” he said.

“I am not running away from debt, I am purely protecting those dearest to me and getting out of a country which, due to the lack of structured bankruptcy laws and a banking system which has zero flexibility on loan repayments, drives people to make horrible decisions.”

Through its website, Blue Banana sold alternative gifts such as skydiving and jet fighter flights.

Its online marketing business was the online ticketing partner for the Dubai Pro ARCH Trophy cricket tournament this year.

“I am not trying to justify that what has happened [or say it] is morally correct, it most certainly is not, but there is a very stark reality in doing business in UAE which unfortunately results in the most horrible decisions having to be made,” Ford said.

“On a personal level, I have been through the most soul destroying and emotionally horrific four days of my life, and am likely to continue to do so for some time as my integrity is repeatedly called into question and rumours of me stealing people’s money, amongst other accusations, grow out of control.”

In a separate statement, an investor in the company, Nazar Musa, described the company’s management style as “over optimistic”.

Ford said in his letter that he has set up an e-mail account for people to contact him with regard to outstanding payments, and that he would “proactively contact” all those owed money by the company within the next 48 hours.

“I am sorry, Dubai,” he said.

The company's website has been closed down and efforts to call someone on the telephone listed for the firm were unsuccessful.

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