HLG chief released from custody as Habtoor exits joint venture
The chief executive of Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG) who was arrested in Dubai this month has been released without charge.
His release coincided with the exit of Al Habtoor Holding from the joint venture construction company behind some of Dubai’s biggest projects — including one that was billed as the world’s largest building.
José Antonio López-Monis, the chief executive and managing director of the contractor was arrested on August 17. No further details on why Mr López-Monis had been detained were made public.
His detention came to light after CIMIC Group, which has a 45 per cent stake in the contractor, issued a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.
The company issued a second statement on Friday morning confirming Mr López-Monis has been released without charge.
At the same time CIMIC said it had entered into a binding agreement with its two joint venture partners in HLG which “will enable one of the shareholders, Al Habtoor Holding LLC to transfer its shares to another partner Riad Al Sadik, subject to execution of final documentation.”
Mr Sadik is the current chairman of HLG who along with Khalaf Al Habtoor, founded Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises in 1970.
The withdrawal of Al Habtoor from HLG marks the end of a partnership that was formed in 2007 when Al Habtoor Engineering merged with Gulf Leighton, part of CIMIC Group — Australia’s biggest contracting group.
Over a decade the pair delivered high profile projects countrywide but came unstuck on the $2.4 billion Dubai Pearl launched in 2009.
According to the HLG website, the development was expected to be the largest single building in the world covering some 20 million square feet spread across four 73-storey mixed-use towers.
But seven years after its launch, construction work has long since stopped with only the partially constructed concrete frames of the buildings visible from the surrounding roads.
HLG could not be reached for comment on Friday.