By Ed Attwood
Lawyer for people suing Erik Prince confirms his residency in the UAE from Aug 12.
Erik Prince, the founder of the notorious Blackwater private security firm, has appeared in court in Abu Dhabi as part of a civil suit brought against him by two former employees.
The National reported that Susan Burke, the lawyer representing whistleblowers suing Prince, had confirmed that the former US Navy Seal had become resident in the UAE on August 12.
Internet speculation had been rife that Prince would relocate to the UAE as Blackwater – now rebadged as Xe Services – has been the target of a series of investigations by the US Congress.
Blackwater had its licence revoked by the Iraqi government after the firm’s guards killed 17 civilians while transporting US officials through Baghdad’s Al Nisour Square in 2007.
The current lawsuit alleges that Prince and his co-defendant companies defrauded the US government on several counts between June 2005 and May 2009, AFP reported.
The defendents allegedly inflated expenses, faked records of how many staff they employed and billed the government for "worthless services" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which hit Gulf of Mexico states in 2005, the news agency said.
One of the former employees, Melan Davis, also alleged that Blackwater had billed the government for strippers in Louisiana and a monthly salary for a prostitute in Afghanistan, AFP added.
The UAE does not have an extradition treaty with the US.
The National reported Prince as saying that he had moved to the emirate because of its “great proximity to potential opportunities across the entire Middle East, and great logistics”.
“There are good schools here, a church where we can worship, my kids can go to the malls and my girls don’t need to change the way they dress,” Prince told the paper.
“I’m trying Abu Dhabi because it feels a lot like Singapore. Rule of law, a friendly business climate, low to no taxes, free trade and no out of control trial lawyers or labour unions. It’s pro-business and opportunity.”