How US Special Forces operative Scott Butler’s Dubai business deal turned into ‘total war’

When an ordinary business dispute turned ugly, a former U.S. Army Special Forces operator who ran an anti-counterfeiting consultancy in Dubai said he was “handcuffed, dragged from an airport, and held in public hands” before being jailed on a false charge. The occasion was humiliated”.

Then, things obviously got really bad.

War veteran Scott F. Butler is now claiming his former partner Essam Al-Tamimi, according to a newly filed lawsuit obtained by The Daily Mail. Tamimi is seeking nearly tens of millions of dollars in damages because Butler claims to have worked to destroy his living beast.

In the filing, Butler claimed that his one-time colleague, a Harvard-trained lawyer with ties to Arab royalty, waged an “all-out war” against him, allegedly leaving the 58-year-old couple The father of three children was banned from leaving the country while stealing a $3.1 million villa from under his nose.

Altamimi, 61, is the founder of the largest law firm in the Middle East whose clients include members of numerous ruling families in the region, according to Butler’s lawsuit.Butler claims Al-Tamimi used his connections and influence to ‘weaponize[e] the legal system of the United Arab Emirates” and false criminal and civil charges are still filed against him to this day. Nonetheless, every case Al-Tamimi brought against Butler was ultimately dismissed, the lawsuit says, except some “for Al-Tamimi political partiality” simply cannot be overcome.

The years-long saga could serve as a cautionary tale for anyone working or traveling in potentially hostile environments. Most recently, professional basketball player Brittney Griner spent nine months in a Russian prison after Moscow airport police claimed they found 0.3 milligrams of cannabis oil in her luggage. In Cuba, foreign businessmen have been jailed on trumped-up charges by government officials keen to embezzle their investments. In October, six U.S. Citgo executives were finally released from a Venezuelan prison after years of incarceration on dubious corruption charges.

For its part, Dubai has managed to project a softer, business-friendly image. However, according to the non-profit Gulf Center for Human Rights, “there is a large discrepancy between the progressive and forward-looking image the UAE presents on the international stage” and the reality of the UAE. In Dubai, defaulting on a debt can land you in jail, and relatives of the debtor can even be arrested for money they don’t owe.

A spokesman for Butler’s attorney told The Daily Beast that Butler is currently at his U.S. home on the “West Coast” and will not be available for comment until next week. Al-Tamimi, who did not list an attorney in the court filing, did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Saturday.

During Butler’s ten years as a Green Beret, he was deployed to Panama, Somalia and Kuwait, where he led highly specialized High Altitude Low Open (HALO) parachute units. After retiring from the military in 1996, Butler began investigating intellectual property theft for major Hollywood studios.

He set up shop in Dubai and scoured the region for copyright pirates on behalf of big-name brands such as Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Along the way, Butler met Al-Tamimi, who, in addition to practicing law, also ran one of Dubai’s top investment firms. He owns multimillion-dollar properties across the U.S., including a property near Sun Valley, Idaho, and a $7.5 million apartment in Boston, according to public records.

Butler finally decided to put his name on the line, and in July 2000, with Al-Tamimi, he founded the Arab Anti-Piracy Alliance (Arabian APA). Butler’s lawsuit says the company specializes in “investigating counterfeit products and shutting down factories producing counterfeit goods in countries including Kuwait, Qatar, the Kingdom of Bahrain, Oman, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates,” noting that Arabian APA serves Cartier, Nike, Apple , Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and Sony.

Arabian APA’s managing director and CEO Butler owns 65 percent of the company, while Al-Tamimi owns the remaining 35 percent. The work of the Arab APA has led to numerous arrests, including helping the Saudis capture an alleged DVD pirate in a crackdown by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Information. The company ended up employing more than 50 people and generating millions of dollars in revenue, according to Butler’s lawsuit.

In September 2001, Butler bought a 10,000-square-foot villa near Dubai’s ultra-luxury Burj Al Arab hotel for $660,000, the lawsuit said.

“One month later, on October 7, 2001, Butler assigned the villa to Arab APA to use as collateral for a loan to allow the company to expand its business,” it explained. “With the consent of Al-Tamimi, the Board of Directors of Arabian APA passed a resolution declaring the villa to be the property of the company.”

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In 2004, Butler secured a $520,000 business loan for Arabian APA using the villa as collateral, and he and the company paid off 98 percent of the loan over the next few years. Butler said he trusts Altamimi and relies on his advice.

“Unbeknownst to Butler at the time, however, Al-Tamimi designed the villa once it became the property of Arabian APA,” the suit states. “Years later, Al-Tamimi filed several lawsuits seeking to separate Butler from Arabia APA and the villa it then owned.”

Despite the success of the Arabian APA, the relationship between Butler and Al-Tamimi has been disintegrating. Butler’s lawsuit alleges that Altamimi, who describes himself as a dispute resolution expert, “has not (and has consistently refused) to invest money, effort or time” in the Arab APA.

“From the beginning, Al-Tamimi treated the Arab APA as his own business, taking advantage of Butler’s foreign status,” it said, adding that while Al-Tamimi never injected the $100,000 he had promised into the company, He still registered himself as an equal partner in official documents. Butler’s lawsuit alleges that Al-Tamimi made important decisions and declined to share key information and documents without first consulting Butler.

The filing accused Al-Tamimi of similar conduct to others, claiming he was “known for concealing his personal investments in special purpose vehicles and offshore companies.” When Al-Tamimi’s wife divorced him in 2017 after discovering he was having an affair while pregnant, he sought to recoup roughly $15 million in London real estate he had gifted “for being a faithful wife,” according to reports at the time. she.

Frustrated and hesitant, Butler said he offered to buy out Al-Tamimi in October 2009.

According to the suit, he proposed a plan to sell the villa, which was worth about $2.2 million at the time — more than the company was worth — and pay Al-Timimi his stake in the company from the proceeds. The bank did not object, but Al-Tamimi “asked himself to keep the villa as a condition of terminating the shareholder agreement,” and the lawsuit continued.When Butler refuses, Al-Tamimi decides to ‘exit’ [him] From the Middle East by any means necessary. “

For Al-Tamimi, Butler’s lawsuit says, “total war is the only solution.”

“Al-Tamimi used and abused the full range of legal process available to him,” it claimed, arguing that Al-Tamimi “through his connections in the UAE” made the system work for his own benefit — and seriously damaged Butler .

“Al-Tamimi began using his political connections in the UAE to facilitate Butler’s imprisonment in Dubai and the confiscation of his passport for six years, keeping Butler away from his wife and children,” the lawsuit states. Saying that isn’t enough. He’s trying to completely remove Butler from the Middle East.”

Altamimi filed criminal charges against Butler and attempted to force him out of bankruptcy, according to the lawsuit, which further accuses Altamimi of interfering with Butler’s clients “by requiring them to cease their business relationship with him.”

“Eventually,” it said, “he stole the villa in Dubai.”

Butler said his nightmare really began on June 11, 2010, when he was arrested at Dubai International Airport as he was preparing to fly to Saudi Arabia to discuss intellectual property protection policies with service providers, the U.S. government and Saudi authorities .

Butler’s suit says he was handcuffed, “dragged from the airport” and then “held in jail as if he were a criminal,” explaining that Al-Tamimi was so devastated that he filed a criminal case. The suit alleges that Butler misappropriated $75,000 of company funds from Arabia APA.

Eight months later, the UAE Public Prosecutions Department dropped the case after concluding that “Altamimi’s allegations were without merit,” Butler’s lawsuit said.

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Butler was brought to court again in July 2011 on the same criminal embezzlement charge, “at the request of Al-Tamimi,” according to his lawsuit. Again, the charges were dismissed. According to Butler, Al-Tamimi’s appeal was denied, as was his appeal against the dismissal.

But Al-Tamimi kept coming. In December 2012, unbeknownst to Butler, Al-Tamimi filed a civil suit to liquidate Arabian APA. Butler’s lawsuit says the process will include the sale of the villa “for the purpose of obtaining all proceeds from the sale.” Butler never received any documents about the liquidation, although he eventually learned of the plan from a “third party” and the liquidation process was dismissed, it said.

Over the next eight years, Al-Tamimi filed a barrage of lawsuits in courts in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, trying to wrest control of Arabian APA and Villa from Butler. Most of the cases were dismissed, except for “a small minority that could not overcome political favoritism against Altamimi,” the lawsuit said. In it, Butler was forced to pay Al-Tamimi $100,000 in legal fees, marking his “turning point,” the suit says.

Butler is now unlikely to continue his work under the banner of the Arab APA, but according to the lawsuit, he “remains passionate about preventing intellectual property infringement in the Middle East.” He then “worked to disassociate himself from Al-Tamimi and in 2016 established the Arab Company and American APA” with operations throughout the Middle East. In September of that year, Butler said he was arrested again by UAE authorities, had his passport confiscated and he was banned from leaving for three months.

According to his lawsuit, Butler still held out.

Shortly after he established his new independent business, Arabian APA’s “long-time customers, such as Hewlett-Packard, Procter & Gamble, and Apple, chose to continue their trusted and successful relationships with Butler,” the lawsuit says. “They moved their operations to Arabian Company and American APA and away from Al-Tamimi.”

Butler insisted that further angered Altamimi and claimed that Altamimi continued to try to destroy him. According to Butler’s lawsuit, in the days before Christmas 2018, Al-Tamimi secretly used a disputed villa worth “at least $3.1 million” at the time as collateral for a $9 million personal loan. He has been making legal advocacy in court, allegedly trying to oust Butler from the firm and pressuring current and potential clients not to work with him.

Butler claims that in 2020, Al-Tamimi finally won the ultimate prize.

Shortly after Butler obtained a court order preventing Al-Tamimi from selling the disputed villa, Arab APA’s bank claimed ownership of the property without Butler’s knowledge and “cooperated with Al-Tamimi” for $1.3 million. Price sold it to an unnamed buyer, the lawsuit said. Al-Tamimi kept $1.1 million of the proceeds and the bank kept the rest, the lawsuit says, alleging that the bank and Al-Tamimi “conspired to Pay the proceeds of the sale and deny Butler anything.”

According to Butler, Al-Tamimi then transferred the funds into a personal bank account in the United States, reinvesting the funds in real estate in the United States.

Butler is suing Al-Tamimi in New York City, where the Emiratis allegedly diverted the proceeds of the villa sale, alleging bad faith prosecution, abuse of process and fraud. He asked for a jury trial and for no less than $67 million in damages.

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