Ernst & Young whistleblower awarded $11 million for exposing UAE gold refinery corruption

Ernst & Young whistleblower awarded $11 million for exposing UAE gold refinery corruption
A whistleblower who had feared for his life has been awarded millions of dollars in damages after he found irregularities in a UAE gold refinery company's finances.
2 min read
18 April, 2020
The scandal rocked the industry [Getty]

A British court has awarded $11 million (£8.6m) in damages on Friday to a former partner at Ernst & Young accounting firm after they exposed a money laundering scheme at a major gold refinery in the United Arab Emirates.

Amjad Rihan claims that he was pushed out of Ernst & Young (EY) after expressing concerns about irregularities at precious metals dealer and refiner Kaloti Jewellery International back in 2013, according to a ruling from High Court Judge Timothy Kerr.

When he voiced his concerns to EY, Rihan said he was ordered back to Dubai but feared for his safety and resigned a year later, leaking his findings to the media.

The high court in London ruled that EY had repeatedly helped to cover up the results of an audit led by Rihan business practises, Reuters reports, and repeatedly breached the code of ethics for professional accountants.

The audit found that the Gulf-based company had paid billions of dollars for precious metal obtained from other countries such as Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iran without properly checking its origin, as well as purchased gold bars from Morocco coated in silver to avoid export restrictions.

“We will appeal and, therefore, not comment in detail,” EY said in a statement.

"It was the work of an EY Dubai assurance team that uncovered serious irregularities and reported them to the proper authorities.”

“Their work ultimately resulted in sanctions against the refiner and contributed to significant changes in the sourcing of precious metals and the regulation of refiners in Dubai.”

The court awarded Rihan a total of $10,843,941 and £117,950 in sterling for damages for past and future loss of earnings, and loss of employment benefits.

“Almost seven years of agony for me and my family has come to an end with a total vindication by the court,” Rihan told the Guardian after the ruling.

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“My life was turned upside down as I was cruelly and harshly punished for insisting on doing my job ethically, professionally and lawfully in relation to the gold audits in Dubai.

“The court ruled in my favour and found that EY breached its duties towards me, for which I am very grateful.

“I hope that EY uses this judgment as an opportunity to improve and take the necessary measures to avoid anything like this ever happening again.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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