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Sun 28 Jun 2009 08:28 PM

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ACI Group denies CEO has been jailed, fled UAE

Dubai-based developer says reports in German press concerning Robin Lohmann wide of mark.

ACI Group denies CEO has been jailed, fled UAE
ROBIN LOHMANN: German reports that CEO of ACI Group has been arrested in Dubai and forbidden to leave the country, have been firmly denied. (Getty Images)

UAE-based real estate broker ACI Group has denied stories in German business media that the company’s CEO Robin Lohmann has been jailed.

Trade title Financial Intelligence Service last week reported that Lohmann has been under investigation by the Dubai police.

The paper stated that four independent sources had confirmed Lohmann had been taken into custody for one night, had surrendered his passport to the authorities, and was not allowed to leave the country before the debts of ACI Dubai were settled.

Real estate companies have been battered by the collapse in property prices in the UAE, which has led to several master developments grinding to a standstill.

Sub developers with projects within these master developments have been battling to satisfy investors who have paid deposits for property that is not currently being built, while struggling to pay contractors on jobs that are ongoing.

Last week a senior executive of Khoie Properties, the developer behind a $550 million project on Ras al Khaimah’s man-made island of Al Marjan, was handed a three year jail sentence for bouncing two cheques totalling over $30 million.

An official from ACI, who spoke exclusively to Arabian Business but would not be named or directly quoted, said that reports in the German business press about Lohmann’s arrest, and rumours circulating in the Gulf that he had fled the country, were not true.

ACI Group is a German-based company that entered the Gulf market in 2004 with a multi-million dollar marketing programme for a succession of projects and established a glamorous headquarters - a large converted beach villa that overlooks the Arabian Gulf.

High profile projects in the emirate included tie-ups with F1 racing legend Michael Schumacher and former Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker.

The office is still functioning, as Arabian Business discovered when it visited the premises last week. Mr Lohmann was not available for a meeting and has not returned our calls.

A company spokesman mounted a robust defence for ACI, noting that, unlike many other developers who had already fled the country, ACI was still operating and construction work was ongoing. The company’s web site, he said, showed pictures of ongoing construction work that proved work is progressing.

There are 19 projects promoted on the web site, but only seven have “construction updates” that show progress on building sites.

The remainder, which includes the Boris Becker Beach Resort & Tennis Academy in Ras Al Khaimah, have no construction updates on the web site.

ACI said that no refunds were being paid to investors because projects have been postponed, not cancelled, but added that investors were not required to pay additional instalments until construction work restarted.

Joe 10 years ago

Of the 19 projects, how many of the 19 plots have been paid in full? Does anyone know? Governments need to start playing tough with these property companies who have not paid for their plots. Take the plots away from them and order companies to start paying refunds.

Sam 10 years ago

I am a investor of aci and have met mr Robin Lohmann and his team many times in the past weeks in his office for solution! ACI has been one of the few developers who are still providing a great customer service to clients!! i have no longer faith in your newspapaer as it is all bunch of lies!!! maybe you should have waited in the office lonegr for him to visit you rather then writting bunch of none sence!

IA 10 years ago

I bought through ACI for a project in Ajman called Highfield Towers. To this day I have never heard from ACI or Al Rashed (the developer) as to where my contract or money is!! Its been almost 1 year since I paid 5% and have never been requested to pay more or offered my money back! I have spoken to several investors in the same situation so the question is where is our money? Why hasnt the project started? Please Please give me my money BACK!!!

bewildered of dubai 10 years ago

well said Sam. You obviously know so much better than everyone else...

ron oakeley 10 years ago

i think mr sam must be an aci employee !!! i invested in niki lauda project over a year ago and nothing has happened, they dug a huge hole and then kept making us pay ...we all had enough and stopped when they claimed they could build a 30 storie building without any foundations ..... we have asked for money back as we had paid 30 % ...this was refused... my contract was then terminated as i refused to pay for completed piling installment when there was still ony a hole .... i have since spent another 100k$ on lawyers bills and so far am on court apperance number 7 and nothing has been agreed apart from aci stating that it is nothing to do with them ....i must have been mistaken as to whom we paid the money .... but i can assure you it was aci... all i want is for the law of the land to be upheld and my monies returned . i am shocked to discover that this same project appears to be sold to investors in germany as well. we have tried to tell the authorities here that there is something wrong but so far no action has been taken ....maybe now that gomopa has made this public the truth of the situation will be seen.

Sultan Khan 10 years ago

Regretably same thing happening at Deyaar who refuse to return the 20% I have paid them since November 2007 for an appartment at Deyaar Park Downtown Jebel Ali. They have not started any construction so far as the project is on "hold" due to issues with the master developer. How long it will be on "hold" for no one at Deyaar can say and they just use this ploy to stop giving people refunds. These tactics will do nothing to rebuild the tarnished image of the Dubai realty market. I have learnt a painful lesson which is to invest in real markets where there is a law to protect buyers from even supposedly reputable companies like Deyaar who take your money, deliver nothing and refuse to give refunds.

ron oakeley 10 years ago

no one will have cofidence in the dubai real estate market untill the law of the land is followed. no one in rera or the court seems strong enough to impliment these laws. these projects are not postponed, they will never be built...if nothing happened in the last 2 "good" years its impossible to expect anything better in the current recession. these developres must return funds or go to jail.

The Analyst 10 years ago

I have friends that have been pulled around since 2003 with these guys. 49 towers and they are just at the point where they have not completely built one tower, they have done a few floors of a FEW buildings! They are also being told conflicting stories of the Lagoon, the actual water surrounding, will not be done. These buyers have gone to RERA, compained to the Rulers Court, and nothing happens. The owners of Schon have even been allowed to continue selling off plan in other parts of the UAE with all these problems of non compliance of building. It's a shame because it looks like RERA is protecting these developers because if they actually went in and closed them down and put them in jail, how will the project finish, or where will the money come from to pay back the almost $1 BILLION Schon has taken. In order to bring back consumer confidence, the government needs to go in and close these developers down. The people I know are not multi=millionaires but hard working people the Schon Properties - Dubai Lagoon, have taken for a ride. Cheers to all!

Gilbert 10 years ago

We invested with Al Rashed last year and so far and not a stone has been lifted - everything remains on paper. They failed to file with ARRA and are making no effort to refund or consolidate. What are the authorities waiting for? Why is more not being done to project investors? Its not rocket science - no project, money back. Innocent people trusted these developers and invested their hard earned money to build a future in Dubai. If Dubai cares ... now is the time to act and clamp down on these renegade developers to ensure the future of Dubai's real estate market.

Sam 10 years ago

Not going to tout "told you so", but I wonder would be thrashed by as many "Dubai is shooting up and defying all doubters" hounds as I was two years ago when we were screaming that the whole infrastructure system and actual market does not allow for such building to continue?