Project finance: Oman’s Blue City advisers sued
Oman’s landmark Blue City project has been dragged into a legal dispute after one of the project’s financial advisers was sued last month.
Switzerland’s Oppenheimer Investments (OIAG) is being sued in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for fraud in connection with its work as financial adviser to the Al Sawadi Investment & Tourism Company (ASIT), an Omani company in charge of the huge project. The plaintiffs, Jacques Allouf, a former employee of an OIAG affiliate, and ECO Munich, a real estate finance specialist based in Atlanta, allege that OIAG founders Samuel Grossmann and Conrad Stampfli falsely claimed affiliation with South Africa’s Oppenheimer family to gain credibility with them and other business partners. In addition, they allege that OIAG has failed to pay fees for services provided by the plaintiffs that relate to the successful closing of the deal.
Grossmann and Stampfli, together with fellow defendant Jerald Belofsky, chief operating officer of Oppenheimer North America, an OIAG affiliate, each deny all of the accusations. "Oppenheimer Investments will vigorously defend the lawsuit and take appropriate legal action against ECO Munich... and Mr Allouf, including obtaining repayment of certain monies already paid to which they were not entitled," read a press statement by them.
The Blue City Project is a joint effort of Omani and Bahraini private sector investors and developers.