Founder of Bahrain's Unicorn gets 4 years jail

Majid Al-Refai found guilty of embezzlement and misappropriating bank funds
Founder of Bahrain's Unicorn gets 4 years jail
Majid Al-Refai, founder and former CEO of Bank Alkhair.
By Claire Valdini
Tue 26 Jun 2012 05:25 PM

The founder and former CEO of Bahrain’s Unicorn Investment Bank has been sentenced to four years in jail by the Criminal Court of Bahrain after being found guilty of embezzlement and misappropriating bank funds.

Majid Al-Refai, who left the Islamic lender now known as Bank Alkhair in August 2010, was given the sentence today, while his associate Falah Al Falah was ordered to serve one year in prison for misappropriation and dissipation of bank funds, the bank said in a statement Tuesday.

Al-Refai was found guilty of embezzlement, misappropriating and squandering bank funds; destroying critical bank documents; and deliberately obstructing the bank’s shareholders and authorised entities from accessing the lender’s records.

“We are glad that this case has finally been concluded and we can continue to focus our efforts on growing our business,” Yousef Al-Shelash, chairman of Bank Alkhair, said in a statement.

In September 2011, an independent investigation by Deloitte ordered by Bahrain's General Prosecutor implicated Al-Refai in 58 criminal offences including destroying more than 8,000 bank documents.

Tuesday’s judgment is the latest development in a series of legal cases following Al-Refai’s departure from the bank. In May, the former CEO and founder of the lender lost a civil court claim which sought to strike down his dismissal by the bank.

In March, Bahrain’s Chamber for Dispute Resolution dismissed a compensation claim for BHD1m (US$2.65m) by Al-Refai in relation to his departure from the bank.

The unlisted investment bank, founded in 2004, has insisted the legal proceedings do not effect the continuing operations of the bank.

Sources told Reuters in August 2010 that Al-Refai left the company due to a dispute with its board over strategy.

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