The strange case of business tycoon Khater Massaad


Just five years ago, back in September 2016, in the eyes of UAE newspaper The National News, Khater Massaad was seen as the golden boy of business in the Northern Emirates, who transformed a small tile factory into a global manufacturing name and had recruited to run the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (Rakia) in 2007 to achieve the same kind of transformation across the wider community.

According to The National News, since leaving the United Arab Emirates, Khater Massaad was being pursued by his former employers from Africa and Caucasus. Finally, they caught up with him at Jeddah airport when Massaad was detained by the Saudi police on an arrest warrant issued from the northernmost emirate. It related to his conviction in absence in 2015 in a Ras Al Khaimah court on charges of fraud.

Khater Massaad was once lauded for extracting wealth from the barren rocks of the Ras Al Khaimah mountains, helping transform the emirate into an unlikely manufacturing hub and picking up numerous business awards along the way. But at some point between the boom years of 2007 and 2008 and his departure from the emirate in 2012, his relationship with his former employer changed dramatically for the worse. Ever since, he has been relentlessly followed by lawyers engaged by Rakia around the world.

Yet other than his conviction of 2015, in Ras Al Khaimah when he was not present to defend himself, he has not been found guilty of any crimes in other legal jurisdictions.

The government of the emirate has been investigating the executive and some of his associates during 2011-2016, as part of what they claim to be a wider US$1.5 billion fraud probe. Khater Massaad is accused of investing hundreds of millions of dollars of the emirate’s funds with no legal due diligence.

Massaad has denied the allegations stating he was simply a fall guy. During an interview from Lebanon, he told National News: I made a lot of money for them and created a lot of wealth.

 Khater Massaad also runs his own ceramic business establishment named Star Industrial Holdings in Lebanon.

After leaving Ras Al Khaimah for Lebanon in 2012, Khater Massaad has since successfully built up a new venture based around ceramics. He runs Beirut-based Star Industrial Holdings, which includes Forsan Ceramics, a $186m joint venture with local Saudi investors that is already one of the largest ceramic producers in Saudi Arabia.

In January this year, a court in Bangladesh ordered confiscating the entire state of Khater Massaad in three local companies namely Star Ceramics Limited, Star Porcelain Limited and Rakeen Development Company (BD) Limited.

On behalf of the Bangladesh Government, Attorney General’s office filed the confiscation petition with a Special Court, based on the request of the UAE company Ras Al Khaimah (RAK).

Deputy Attorney General Imran Ahmed Bhuiyan, who represented the Attorney General’s Office at the court, told reporters, Bangladesh responded to a friendly nation’s request to help them recover stolen assets and we expect that our friends across the world would follow the lead in bringing our laundered money back to home.

Massaad owns 30 percent of Rakeen Development, while his British Virgin Island-based holding company Star Bangladesh Holdings Limited owns 43.5 percent of Star Ceramics, and Lebanon based holding company Star Investments SAL holds 31.25 percent of Star Porcelain Limited.

RAKIA wrote to the Bangladesh Government in 2019 that Massaad brought a substantial proceed of his embezzled money in Bangladesh, and invested in the tree enterprises.

Of those, Star Ceramics was on its way for stock market listing, but fell back in 2019 as the RAKIA representatives launched legal actions in Bangladesh.

It may be mentioned here that, RAK emerged as a pioneer manufacturer of various types of tiles and bathroom fittings, which had not only helped Bangladesh in earning significant amount of foreign currency through exports, the company also became a solid competitor to imported tiles and bathroom fittings from overseas. In Bangladesh, RAK succeeded in gaining confidence of the customers.

The Khater Massaad case seems to be strange to us. We shall further investigate the matter and publish follow-up reports and opinion editorials on it.


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