From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A report from 2012 notes "The future of MerchantBridge, one of the largest private equity investors in Iraq, is in question a year after the death of two of its founders and a messy legal dispute over one of its holdings.

"Founded by Basil Al Rahim and other wealthy Arabs in 2001, MerchantBridge has served as a conduit for investments by big names such as Qatar National Bank, Qatar Telecom and Lafarge Cement in Iraq as the country emerges from decades of war and sanctions.

"But Al Rahim and partner Abdullah Lahoud died when the company's private jet crashed en route from Sulaimaniyah, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, to Beirut in February last year, triggering a legal dispute over a 19 per cent stake in Asiacell, an Iraqi mobile telecommunications company." [1]

Founded by Al Rahim, a former Carlyle Group executive, and other wealthy Arabs in 2001, MerchantBridge served as a conduit for investments by big names such as Qatar National Bank, Qatar Telecom and Lafarge Cement in post-war Iraq.

A report from July 2014 notes: "Lord Lamont, along with other grandees including the property developer Lord Palumbo, Baroness Symons and the former Barclays chairman Andrew Buxton, were all advisers to the London private equity firm Merchantbridge, and may all be requested to stand as witnesses to a High Court action over an Iraqi deal.

"The case revolves around the activities of Merchantbridge’s late founder, Basil Al Rahim, who was killed in an Iraq plane crash along with two JPMorgan bankers three years ago.

"Lord Lamont became involved with the company through another Merchantbridge founder, Colin Craig, who was also killed, but in a 2005 car crash in Morocco. They set up the business in London in 2002 to invest in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and did a number of deals in the country after the 2003 war.

"Now, a childhood friend of Mr Al Rahim, Samir Arab, who was a director of the company, claims Mr Al Rahim massively short-changed him over the value of his shares in one of Merchantbridge’s big investments, a telecoms company called Asiacell.

"...Mr Al Rahim was a well-known Iraqi dealmaker with formidable contacts in the country and across the Middle East. He was part of the team that set up the international business of the giant US private equity firm Carlyle Group – which went on to become notorious for its close links to US Republican politicians and defence contracts.

"One report has claimed it was he who brought the Saudi bin Laden family – not including Osama, who by then had been ostracised by his kin – to become investors in Carlyle." [2]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles