Finally free, Proctor warns of Qatar’s complexities
The nightmare of being held against his will is finally over for David Proctor, the former chief executive of Al-Khaliji Bank. Reunited with his family, he can finally reveal the extent of his ordeal, and issues a stark warning to other finance professionals looking to do business in Qatar. Eric Ellis, the reporter who broke news of his plight, spoke to Proctor in Singapore.
DAVID PROCTOR’S last hours in Doha were not without drama. On April 28, 14 months since the start of his ordeal, he was telephoned unsolicited by his successor at Al-Khaliji, the bank’s "acting" CEO, South African banker Robin McCall. Proctor says McCall affected a matey long-time-no-hear telephone tone with his former boss, asking: "What was he up to these days". A disgusted Proctor asked McCall about the status of his exit visa. He says McCall responded that it had been approved and was available for collection from Qatar’s immigration department. Proctor had heard such things a myriad times before, he regarded it as part of the torment and believed McCall’s remark was yet another false dawn. He perfunctorily went to the department and to his astonishment he was told there was a visa available but that he couldn’t collect it as such things were all electronic now. Sceptical but hopeful, he made a provisional booking for a one-way ticket to Singapore at the airport for the midnight flight on Qatar Airways, owned by his former patron at Al-Khaliji, Qatar’s prime minister. Proctor fretted this was an elaborate stitch-up, and that he might even go missing, as have other expatriates before him in similar predicaments. Proctor’s family abroad wanted to keep track of his movements in Qatar and were worried that the exit procedure was a ruse, mindful of the British airline executive Ian Heywood who went missing for a month when he was detained at Doha airport in 2008 soon after giving in his notice at Qatar Airways. (Heywood was held in Qatar for six months, charged by Qatar Airways with industrial espionage but acquitted when the airline didn’t press charges for lack of evidence.)