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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

“Disappointment” over Trudeau administration's progress in André Gauthier case

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Trudeau's government under fire for lack of progress in freeing innocent Canadian Andre Gauthier. Radha Stirling explains the case

André Gauthier case delayed further, as Detained in Dubai investigates the Gold AE fraud in finer detail.

Gold AE was the UAE’s largest gold and silver investing company, perhaps the largest in the Middle East, until it was revealed that top executives were running a scam,

misappropriating millions of dollars of investor funds for their personal use. The fraud was originally uncovered by Canadian national Andre Gauthier; then a minority shareholder in Gold AE; and NC; a British citizen who acted as an advisor to Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa al-Nahyan, who owned Gold AE’s parent company Gold Holding.

As soon as Andre brought the financial crimes to the attention of Sheikh Sultan, a meeting was ordered with Gold AE executives to get to the bottom of the fraud. As soon as this meeting was announced, all the top executives of Gold AE fled the country, beginning with Gold AE’s director Muhammad Abu Alhaj, who has been incriminated as the chief architect and beneficiary of the scam; he reportedly did not even take the time to collect his personal belongings before flying out of Dubai.

Sheikh Sultan appointed Andre to oversee an internal investigation into the fraud, and to attempt to recover investor losses as much as possible. Cases were filed against Alhaj and others who had fled justice and Andre continued to identify the participants in the scam, including many elites from across the Gulf region.

Alhaj, apparently fearing prosecution, allegedly began contacting Gold AE investors privately, inciting them to file charges against the new management of the company over the fraud he allegedly masterminded. Dozens of cases were then filed against Andre and others, even against Sheikh Sultan himself. NC, a man with no connection to Gold AE when the crimes were committed, suffered more than a year in arbitrary detention as a result of the tidal wave of police complaints. Andre was imprisoned for 18 months, and has been in a legal battle for the past four years; though he too was not employed by Gold AE when the fraud took place and in spite of being the original whistleblower to expose the wrongdoing of the company’s former management. In fact, Andre is currently in prison again in Dubai, still fighting to clear his name of the crimes he exposed. He has received extremely little support from the Canadian government in his struggle, despite repeated assurances from high level officials.

“We are very disappointed with the inactivity of the Trudeau administration,” says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who are representing Andre, “The chief culprits in the Gold AE scam are not named in the current cases; they have fled the UAE. Gold AE’s former director, Muhammad Abu Alhaj, against whom there is significant evidence, ran away to Canada and reportedly continued the same sorts of activities before eventually fleeing that country as well. Canadian authorities are entirely familiar with Andre’s case, and are fully aware of his innocence, yet they have provided no meaningful support beyond basic consular services. We spoke with officials from the Canadian Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Minister herself spoke with Andre’s son, Alexis, and assured us that high level discussions were underway. However, what is actually happening on the ground reveals either Canada’s indifference to Andre’s plight, or else the UAE’s indifference to Canada’s concerns.

“The defrauded investors of Gold AE deserve justice, and the only way they can get it is if the alleged perpetrators of the scam are prosecuted; people like Muhammad Abu Alhaj. Andre was not working for Gold AE when the fraud was committed and he had no access to the accounts. In fact, it is precisely because Alhaj refused to disclose the company’s books to him that Andre began to suspect wrongdoing. Andre has been exonerated by the expert report commissioned by the Dubai Ruler’s Court, but has lost years of his life, and stands to lose his remaining years, if Canada does not actively intervene to secure his release.”

Andre’s son Alexis comments, “If my father had not uncovered the fraud perpetrated by Alhaj and the other executives, investors would have lost millions more than the fraudsters already stole from them. He was trying to recover their losses when they filed these misdirected complaints against him. He was and is on the side of the investors. Canada knows it, the UAE knows it, Sheikh Sultan knows it, but no one is willing to stand up and make this right. My father is being assigned the blame for a crime he himself exposed, while the real criminals are still free to continue scamming people in Canada and who knows where else. The Trudeau government has done next to nothing to help. The court process in the UAE is just going on as it has been for the last 4 years, and the Canadian government is just passively watching my father’s life drain away week after week.”

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