News

Find out what The Khan Partnership has recently achieved and find the latest information on our areas of expertise.

News
News

News

Find out what The Khan Partnership has recently achieved and find the latest information on our areas of expertise.

In the English High Court, Mr Justice Morris’ judgment was handed down today in proceedings brought by a firm of London solicitors, The Khan Partnership LLP, against Thamer Al-Shanfari and his wife, Iman Al-Rawas, for Contempt of Court. Mr Justice Morris found proven to the criminal standard twelve charges of contempt against Thamer Al-Shanfari and two charges against Mrs Iman Al-Rawas. 

Thamer Al-Shanfari is the second son of Sheikh Said Bin Ahmed Al-Shanfari, Oman’s former Minister of Oil (1974 – 1997) and confidant of the late Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said. Thamer Al-Shanfari is married to Mrs Iman Said Al-Rawas, daughter of another highly prominent Omani family and owner of Kunooz Oman Holding. Mr Al-Shanfari’s family business, the Shanfari Group of Companies, is one of Oman’s largest industrial and services conglomerate, with interests in oil and gas, manufacturing, construction and infrastructure, as well as providing security solutions to the Omani government.

From the late 1990’s onwards, Thamer Al-Shanfari forged an entrepreneurial career in oil shipping and, in addition, diamond mining in Africa. On 25 July 2008, Thamer Al-Shanfari was  placed on the United States Office of Foreign Assets and Control (“OFAC”) sanctions list on the grounds of his support of Robert Mugabe and the Zimbabwean regime, on which he remained until 15 August 2016. During this period, Thamer Al-Shanfari was also sanctioned by the European Union (January 2009 to February 2011) and censured in a United Nations Security Council Report (October 2002) concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In English High Court proceedings commenced in 2013, Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas were pursued for non-payment of fees to their English firms of lawyers, Hassan Khan and Co and The Khan Partnership LLP (“TKP”). Judgment was entered in TKP’s favour in March 2018, with Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas liable to pay the firm £1.1 million plus costs. Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas refused to make payment under the Judgment and, further to TKP’s enforcement application dated 24 May 2018, both were ordered to attend the English High Court in person to be questioned on oath before a High Court Judge in relation to their extensive global means and assets under Part 71 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“Part 71 Orders”).

During the Part 71 proceedings, Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas failed to attend Court on four separate occasions between July 2018 and December 2018, for which they were found to be in Contempt of Court, with suspended orders made against each of them for their committal to prison for Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas, to Her Majesty’s Prison Pentonville  and Her Majesty’s Prison Bronzefield respectively unless they both attended the Part 71 Hearings in person. They attended the final Part 71 hearing before the Honourable Mr Justice Morris on 4 to 6 December 2018 (“Part 71 Hearing”), to provide both their sworn testimony and all documents relating to their worldwide means and assets, including records of their properties, corporate interests and bank accounts, as required under the Part 71 Orders.

From the outset, it was clear that both the oral evidence given by Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas was repeatedly false and the documentary evidence that they had been ordered to provide was deliberately incomplete. In short, Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas had clearly sought to hide their extensive wealth and global corporate interests from the English Courts.

After subsequent global investigations into their interests, on 15 January 2021, TKP filed an application for Contempt of Court against both Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas providing substantial evidence proving that they had breached the Part 71 Orders to provide full documentary evidence of their means and assets, had breached the Part 71 Orders by repeatedly lying on oath during the course of the Part 71 Hearing and, further, that Thamer Al-Shanfari had lied in a witness statement with sworn Statement of Truth filed in January 2020 in related proceedings before the Senior Court Costs Office (“Contempt Proceedings”).  

The Contempt Proceedings were heard by the Honourable Mr Justice Morris in a three-day hearing on 29 to 31 March 2021 (“Contempt Hearing”).

Mr Justice Morris handed down his Judgment in the Contempt Proceedings at 2pm on 27 September 2021, finding Thamer Al-Shanfari guilty of all 12 charges of Contempt of Court made against him and Mrs Al-Rawas of both charges of Contempt of Court made against her.

In accordance with Part 81 of the Civil Procedure Rules, the allegations made against both Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas were required to be proven to the criminal standard of proof, a standard that Mr Justice Morris found each allegation met.

In summary, Thamer Al-Shanfari was found guilty of:

  • Deliberately failing to provide details of his worldwide bank accounts, alongside requisite bank statements in relation to his means and assets as required by the Part 71 Orders and lying about the existence of those accounts in both oral evidence and in his sworn witness statement of January 2020. At the Part 71 Hearing, Thamer Al-Shanfari denied ownership of any active bank accounts, failing to provide five years of bank statements for each bank account in his name, as he was ordered by the Part 71 Order to do. Mr Justice Morris found that, in fact, during the relevant period, Thamer Al-Shanfari held eight accounts at National Bank of Oman, the Bank of Beirut and Bank Dhofar but had deliberately failed to disclose them. Mr Justice Morris further found that Thamer Al-Shanfari had lied about those matters in both oral and written sworn evidence “as part of his efforts to frustrate the enforcement proceedings and to evade payment of the judgment sums due”, knowing that his false statements and lies “were likely to interfere with the course of justice” (paragraphs 85 – 87 of the Judgment).
  • Failing to provide ownership documentation and mortgage documentation in respect of his extensive principal residence in Oman, as required by the Part 71 Orders. At the Part 71 Hearing, Thamer Al-Shanfari provided a single letter dated 2 August 2017 from Oman Arab Bank to the Ministry of Housing, Muscat, purportedly in relation to a mortgage granted over his main, palatial residence in Muscat. In contrast to the position presented by Thamer Al-Shanfari, and on the basis of expert evidence provided by TKP to the Court on Omani property law by an Omani international law firm, Mr Justice Morris found that Thamer Al-Shanfari had deliberately withheld a wealth of documentation available to him to comply with the Part 71 Orders (paragraph 93 of the Judgment);
  • Failing to provide ownership and mortgage documentation in relation to an extensive luxury property compound in Harare, Zimbabwe and lying in both oral and written sworn evidence about the value of that property, as well as his continuing business activities there and his involvement in court actions in Zimbabwe. At the Part 71 Hearing, Thamer Al-Shanfari claimed his Zimbabwean property was in negative equity, that he no longer had business interests in the country and that he was not involved in any legal proceedings there. In contrast, following TKP’s investigations in Zimbabwe, TKP provided to the Court extensive records from the Zimbabwean High Court confirming the value of the Zimbabwean property to be in excess $2.8 million, that Thamer Al-Shanfari was also involved in active business interests in Zimbabwe at a time when he denied being so and he was, further, involved in court proceedings in the country, with a judgment debt of  $4.75 million in his favour. Mr Justice Morris found that, false statements made in Thamer Al-Shanfari’s sworn witness statement of January 2020 were “intended to hide the true extent of his interests, in order to deceive” Master Leonard in the proceedings before the Senior Court Costs Office; further, those lies told at the Part 71 Hearing  were “as part of his efforts to frustrate enforcement of the judgments and orders of the Court… knowing that they were likely to interfere with the course of justice” (paragraphs 105 -107 of the Judgment);
  • Failing to provide details and documents in respect of his global corporate interests, in breach of the Part 71 Orders, and lying in both oral and written sworn evidence about those interests. At the Part 71 Hearing, Thamer Al-Shanfari repeatedly claimed to hold no shares or directorial roles in any companies other than two, loss-making entities for which he provided documents. In contrast to this position, as proven from company registry documentation sourced by TKP from Companies House in the UK, the Infogreffe Registre du Commerce et des Societes in France and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion in Oman, as appended to the Contempt Application, Mr Justice Morris found that Thamer Al-Shanfari, at the time of the Part 71 Hearing and / or his sworn witness statement of January 2020, owned at least one company in the UK, one in France and thirteen sizeable corporate entities in Oman (paragraphs 125 – 130 of the Judgment); and  
  • Failing to produce any information or documents concerning his beneficial interests in or control over oil and energy companies, Oasis Maritime Services LLC (“Oasis Maritime”) and Trans Gulf Energy FZE (“Trans Gulf”). Relating directly to Thamer Al-Shanfari’s interests at the point of his OFAC sanctions, TKP submitted extensive evidence proving his involvement and ongoing interests in Oasis Maritime and Trans Gulf, including accounting records acquired from Thamer Al-Shanfari’s former law firm, Neumans LLP, showing receipt of funds from those entities, together with open source expert evidence  confirming indelible links between Thamer Al-Shanfari’s personal online activities and those companies. In consequence of that evidence, Mr Justice Morris held that Thamer Al-Shanfari had decided “deliberately not to disclose” his interests in Oasis Maritime and Trans Gulf, in breach of the Part 71 Orders and, further, had made material, false statements in oral evidence in relation to them “to evade payment of the judgment sums due to the Claimants…knowing that they were likely to interfere with the course of justice” (paragraphs 144 – 147 of the Judgment).

In summary, Mrs Al-Rawas was also found guilty of Contempt of Court in:

  • Failing to disclose full details of her interests in any company, organisation or business venture and failing to disclose documents relating thereto, in breach of the Part 71 Orders. At the Part 71 Hearing, Mrs Al-Rawas claimed to hold interests in two companies only. On the basis of company registry documentation acquired from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry & Investment Promotion in Oman by TKP, as produced with the Contempt Application, Mr Justice Morris found that Mrs Al-Rawas, in fact, had interests in at least four Omani companies at the time of the Part 71 Hearing (paragraph 127 of the Judgment); and
  • Lying in oral evidence at the Part 71 Hearing in respect of those four Omani companies, her false statement made “to frustrate the enforcement proceedings and to evade payment of the judgment sums”… “knowing that they were likely to interfere with the course of justice” (paragraph 129 of the Judgment).

A copy of the judgment can be found here: Hassan Khan & Co v Al-Rawas & Anor [2021] EWHC 2583 (QB) (27 September 2021) (bailii.org)

Sentencing of Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas

The High Court has now adjourned the case to consider sentencing of both Defendants and the imposition of a prison sentence on being found guilty of Contempt of Court. The Court is empowered to issue an unlimited fine and / or impose a prison sentence of up to two years. Given the severity and extent of each of the findings within the Court’s Judgment, it is expected that maximum penalties of substantial prison sentences are likely to apply in these proceedings.

To date, TKP has received no payment in lieu of the judgment debt owed to it by Thamer Al-Shanfari and Mrs Al-Rawas, that debt now in excess of £2.3 million, with the legal costs of these proceedings increasing that debt beyond £3 million.

For further information please contact info@thekhanpartnership.com

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