André Gauthier before his detention (left). Son Alexis Gauthier campaigns for his safe return home.
“We are scared, exhausted, and heartbroken after years of struggling to free my father from the unfair persecution he has endured in the UAE”, wrote Alexis Gauthier in a heartfelt appeal to Oman’s Ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, today; asking the leader to intervene in the case of his father, André Gauthier.
André has been detained in Oman for nearly a month and faces possible extradition to the United Arab Emirates, where he has already endured over a year in arbitrary detention without charge, falsely accused of participating in a fraud he himself exposed and tried to prevent.
The 65 year old Canadian citizen was a minority shareholder in Gold AE, the largest gold investment firm in the Emirates in its day, but he soon discovered that investor funds were being misappropriated on a massive scale. After bringing the matter to the attention of Gold AE’s chairman, most of the company’s management abruptly fled the country. Andre was subsequently tasked with trying to recover the tens of millions of dollars lost in the fraud, and filed police complaints against the alleged perpetrators.
From overseas, members of the former management contacted Gold AE clients and urged them to press charges against the company's remaining executives over the scandal, including André. He was eventually taken into custody for the crime he had exposed, and stayed in detention without charge for over a year.
Finally reconciling himself with the impossibility of a fair hearing in the UAE, André set about returning to Canada via Oman. He was stopped by immigration officials, however, as he was about to depart, and has been detained ever since, pending extradition proceedings to the Emirates.
Canada maintains cordial relations with Oman, though not extensive, and André’s case is seen as a test for the relationship between the two countries. Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who represent André, said “Canadians are closely watching how Oman handles André’s case. Sultan Qaboos has the power to intervene and allow him to return to his family, and this would send a very positive signal, not only to Canada, but to the international community, that Oman is serious about developing its relationships with countries outside the Gulf region. The UAE is a documented human rights abuser, and Andre has already suffered extreme mistreatment by the authorities. If Oman extradites him to the UAE, it would be a grave mistake both diplomatically and morally.”
“My father is an elderly man,” Alexis wrote to the Sultan, “And suffers from high blood pressure. He has undergone a long and traumatic ordeal in the UAE; including over a year in arbitrary detention without charge; all because he remained in the country trying to recoup the losses suffered by Gold AE investors, and to restore the company to solvency...I cannot emphasise enough to Your Highness how painful this situation has been for him and all of us who love and miss him.”