Heads of Qatar’s largest dairy firm named in lawsuit amid jihadist funding allegations

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Chairman and CEO of Qatar’s largest dairy firm Baladna have been named in papers filed in the British High Court, which alleges they helped fund the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, a Syrian jihadist organisation. ©Getty Images
The Chairman and CEO of Qatar’s largest dairy firm Baladna have been named in papers filed in the British High Court, which alleges they helped fund the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, a Syrian jihadist organisation. ©Getty Images

Related tags: qatar, Dairy

The Chairman and CEO of Qatar’s largest dairy firm Baladna have been named in papers filed in the British High Court, which alleges they helped fund the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, a Syrian jihadist organisation.

According to the court documents seen by FoodNavigator-Asia​, Moutaz Al-Khayyat and Ramez Al-Khayyat were listed as the first and second defendants in a claim made by eight Syrian citizens via the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division in London.

The Syrian claim they lost homes and businesses, and suffered physical and mental harm, because of Al-Nusra’s activities

Moutaz Al-Khayyat and Ramez Al-Khayyat are the Group Chairman and Group Vice Chairman/Group CEO of Power International Holding, which owns and operates Qatar’s largest dairy company Baladna.

In the documents,  the claimants  allege ‘substantial loss and damage’​ ranging from physical and psychiatric injuries to destruction of property and ‘forcible displacement’​ from their homes in Syria due to the alleged financing from the Al-Khayyat brothers via the Doha Bank.

Doha Bank is listed as the third defendant.

The papers continued: “The Defendants knew (or ought to have known) that the funds passed from them and/or through their accounts were intended for the al-Nusra Front and, in any event, [have] breached international and national laws and committed wrongful acts under Syrian law.”​ 

The funding was allegedly facilitated through ‘payments of large sums’​ through Doha Bank into accounts located in Turkey and/or Lebanon, with the money then withdrawn and ‘carried over the border’​ into Syria, where it was allegedly used to fund the jihadist terrorist group.

The court has granted anonymity to all eight claimants.

FoodNavigator-Asia​ has contacted Baladna for comment, but had not received a response as of time of publishing.

However, Doha Bank’s London branch’s Chief Representative Richard Whiting told The Times​ that: “Doha Bank Limited is taking legal advice. However, it considers the allegations asserted against it are groundless and without merit.”

Baladna’s self-sufficiency achievements

Baladna is best known for achieving 100% dairy self-sufficiency in the state via its own dairy farming in the wake of the economic and trade blockade it was faced with from several of its neighbouring Gulf countries back in 2017.

The company produces various types of fresh milks, in addition to a variety of processed dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese, cream and sweets. As of April this year, it took some 95% of dairy market share in the country.

According to Reuters, ​Baladna also supplies over 50% of Qatar’s fresh milk, and has commenced exports to Afghanistan, Yemen and Oman.

Update: August 22, 2019

After our original article was published on August 14th, Baldana responded with the following comment on August 22:

“We would like to highlight the fact that Baladna Food Industries is the leading food and beverages producer in Qatar. Baladna activities are restricted to the management, manufacturing and distribution of Baladna dairy products, and as such, has not engaged, nor does Baladna engage, directly or indirectly with any other commercial or political activities.”

Related topics: Business, Middle East, Dairy

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