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The Kinahan files: Leaked documents expose workings of global empire

An unprecedented insight into the inner workings of the Kinahan family in the UAE

The Kinahan family was given permission by the authorities in Dubai to set up a global agri-commodities export-import business in a special tax free zone even though the authorities knew the shareholders included Daniel Kinahan and Christopher Kinahan junior, leaked documents show.

The documents, which were shared with The Irish Times by the Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), also show new links between Daniel Kinahan and the international boxing business, MTK Global.

The Dublin family developed an extensive trading business in a low-regulation tax-free zone in Dubai in the period after the attack in the Regency Hotel in Dublin on February 5th, 2016, the leaked files show. A screening and assessment review conducted by the Dubai authorities deemed the Kinahan brothers to be "low risk".

Following the Regency attack, where the Hutch crime gang tried unsuccessfully to kill Daniel Kinahan during an MTK Global event, brothers Daniel (44) and Christopher junior (41) moved from the south of Spain, where they had been living, to Dubai, where their father, Christopher senior (66), was already established.

The brothers rented a two-bedroom apartment on the 14th floor of the luxurious 33-storey Iris Blue apartment block in Dubai, paying Dirhams 185,000 (€46,600) up front, with a single cheque, for one-year's rent beginning March 1st, 2016.

According to the tenancy agreement, seen by The Irish Times, the owner of the 127 square metre apartment bought it the previous year for €630,000. The brothers got one parking spot in the building’s underground car park.

The leaked documents show that soon after the brothers moved to the UAE, they began to develop a series of import-export businesses with the consent of the local authorities.

The brothers set up branches of their businesses in the Dubai Multi-Commodities Centre (DMCC), a special designation tax free zone and one of a number of such “offshore” zones set up by the Government of Dubai to attract international investment.

As well as allowing the Kinahans establish a global trading businesses in the tax free zone, the DMCC also agreed to move staff on secondment from the State-owned authority to work in the new enterprises, the documents show.

Among the enterprises established by the Kinahans was Haizum General Trading, which was granted a licence by the Dubai authorities on July 28th, 2016. Under UAE law at the time companies had to be majority-owned by a local citizen. The licence for Haizum listed its shareholders as Hadif Mohammed A Binhuwaidin Alktebi (51 per cent), Daniel Kinahan (30 per cent), and Christopher Kinahan (19 per cent).

When Haizum applied to open a branch office in the DMCC, officials in the authority’s compliance and inspection department conducted a screening and risk assessment during which, the records indicate, they conducted Internet searches on Christopher Kinahan junior and his brother.

Despite both men being associated with the most notorious criminal gang in Ireland and the hugely high-profile Regency Hotel attack, from which Daniel Kinahan had been lucky to escape, the officials decided, in December 2016, that the proposed venture was "low risk" and that it was "okay to proceed", the documents show.

Two months prior to the assessment process, in October 2016, the findings of a transnational investigation into the Kinahan cartel by the Milan-based Transcrime organisation had been widely reported.

The investigation, which received co-operation from An Garda Síochána and funding from the European Commission, found that the organised crime gang had set up more than 200 companies in 20 countries as part of their criminal activities, and had adopted the mafia's "golden rule" of using food companies as a front for moving drugs across borders.

The use of food companies by the Kinahan gang to smuggle drugs was already well known to An Garda Síochána. In February 2008, following the seizure of cannabis worth €10.5 million in a number of locations in Co Kildare, inquiries led to a series of small food companies that were importing foodstuffs from Spain.

Working with the police in other jurisdictions, the gardaí discovered that an established food export import network was being used to smuggle drugs into Ireland, the UK and elsewhere. The inquiries culminated in a series of co-ordinated raids in 2010 targeting the Kinahan group in countries across Europe as well as in Brazil.

The 2016 application to the DMCC to open a branch of the Haizum business in the tax free zone was submitted by Sarfraz Ali Riast Ali, a Pakistani national based in Dubai who had been given power of attorney earlier that month by the Kinahan brothers to act for them.

The application stated that Haizum was engaged in trading in the agri-commodities sector, that the shareholders had several other supporting businesses in the UAE, and that they were “keen on expanding the size and scale of their operations in the coming year”.

The objective in setting up the DMCC branch was to have an international sales office, promote the Haizum business, and trade in agri-commodities “all over the world” ,the application said.

The main products that Haizum expected to trade in were “grains, pulses and sugar,” it said.

“We also hope to eventually expand into the trading of edible oil, pasta, and even poultry, if we happen to line up potential leads, prospective clients, and profitable deals for these products.”

Produce would be sourced from Brazil, Thailand, India, China, East Africa and a port on the Black Sea, and sold to markets such as India, West and East Africa, and countries in the Gulf, the application said.

“We plan to incorporate the company with a physical office from the get go, as we expect to employ a workforce of seven employees,” with this likely to quickly grow to ten, the Dubai authority was told.

“We have a rough target of approximately AED 25 million (6.3 million) turnover in mind for the first year of our operation. We expect this figure to increase consistently over the years as we grow and expand further.”

Employment visa documents in the leaked files show citizens from such countries as the Philippines, Kazakhstan, and India, being granted visas to work for Kinahan companies.

Haizum General Trading Co LLC does not have a website. The company's headed notepaper gives its address as suite 3005, Tower X3, Jumeirah Bay, JLT, Dubai. The company also traded as Haizum Trading LLC.

The DMCC asked the Kinahans to fill out “know your client” (KYC) forms as part of their application for the opening of the Haizum office in the tax-free zone.

In his form Daniel Kinahan said he was a shareholder in Haizum and the sole proprietor of DJK Middle East Trading FZE, with the latter being a service business with an address in the Ajman Free Zone in Dubai. Asked about his business experience, he said:

“I have been part of several trading companies in UAE for a few years now and even have a separate marketing management and management consultancy company based in DWC [Dubai World Central]. I have gained valuable experience that will enable me to grow our business even further.”

In his KYC form Christopher Kinahan jnr stated he was a shareholder in Haizum and the sole proprietor and manager of Geoson Consultancy DWC-LLC, which he described as a service business.

“Apart from Haizum General Trading LLC, I also own another company based in the Ajman Free Zone. Being part of these companies has given me knowledge of the trading industry and makes me more than qualified to oversee the expansion of Haizum further,” he said.

Sarfraz Ali said in his KYC form that he had been working for Falcon Line Cargo Packaging Services, of Deira, Dubai, since May 1st, 2016, prior to which he had been working in Karachi, Pakistan. He gave a residential address in Karachi.

“I have been given power of attorney for Christopher and Daniel for assisting them with the administration and management of all their companies and affairs here in the UAE,” he said in relation to relevant experience. “I am more than capable of serving as a legal representative for the new branch entity.”

All of the KYC forms were dated November 15th, 2016.

The leaked files show that DMCC and Haizum signed an agreement on January 9th, 2017 for the secondment of personnel from the Dubai authority to the Haizum office in the tax free zone, with Daniel Kinahan signing on behalf of Haizum.

“The company is desirous of operating in the DMCC, Dubai, and has requested the centre to second the services of skilled and unskilled personnel, which the Centre has agreed to do upon the terms and conditions hereinafter contained,” the agreement said.

Last week the US Treasury Department sanctioned a Dubai-based company called Ducashew General Trading LLC, saying it is "owned or controlled by, directly or indirectly, Daniel Kinahan".

The leaked files show that a UK national called Rebecca Irene Brinkmann (39) has been acting for Ducashew since 2017, as has a UAE national called Khalid Adbulrahman Mohammad Aljassmi.

The leaked documents show that Brinkmann and Aljassmi each held 25 shares in a branch operation of Ducashew General Trading that was established in the DMCC free zone in late 2017.

In a letter to the DMCC authority on November 15th 2017 Aljassmi described himself as “partner for Ducashew General Trading LLC” and said he had no objection to Brinkmann becoming a director of the new DMCC branch.

In a letter to the DMCC dated April 17th, 2018, signed by Brinkmann, she was described as the “managing director, Ducashew Consultancy DMCC”. The office address given for Ducashew was office 3005, X3 Tower, Cluster X, JLT, Dubai, the same office used by Haizum.

Brinkmann also worked for Haizum General Trading, the leaked documents show. In a contract of employment issued by Haizum during 2017, the "reporting officer" was described as "Daniel Joseph Kinahan and/or Rebecca Irene Brinkmann."

In a letter to the authority dated March 11th, 2018, that was signed by Brinkmann, she was described as “legal rep and HR signatory” for Haizum General Trading.

In her Linkedin profile Brinkmann was said to have grown up in Marbella, Spain, before moving to Dubai. She was described as the chief operating office with Ducashew Trading & Consultancy. The profile is no longer publicly available.

An undated and unsigned document in the leaked files is headed “Rebecca Brinkmann, executive summary of the Business Plan for Ducashew Consultancy DMCC.”

The consultancy, according to the summary, will be “an additional arm of my already existing General Trading LLC Company, Ducashew General Trading LLC, which was incorporated 14th months ago.”

The Ducashew website no longer functions but archive images captured by the Wayback Machine show that up to recently it claimed to be a substantial global business, trading in dairy, beef, lamb, rice, coffee and cotton, and doing business with Brazil, China, New Zealand, Australia, and the US, among other countries.

The website said it was also involved in freight: “Our ever-expanding freight and logistics network serves all the main destinations around the globe.”

The group was also involved in business consultancy and “concierge” services and company formation services. “Our values are at the heart of everything we do,” the website said. Among the four values cited was humility.

Khalid Aljassmi, the UAE national who described himself in November 2017 as the partner of Ducashew General Trading, was announced as a "brand ambassador" for MTK Global on February 12th, 2018, according to a statement on the MTK website.

“An ardent boxing fan, the accomplished Aljassmi will be at the helm of the company’s expansion and development over the coming years,” the statement said.

Aljassmi had been “serving the UAE government for 27 years and currently owns a group of companies based in Dubai,” the statement said.

The leaked files show that on January 8th, 2018, MTK Global wrote to an official in the DMCC in relation to new activities its branch in the tax free zone planned to engage in. The activities cited included sports clubs and facilities management, the promotion and management of athletes’ careers, and dealing with international sports authorities.

The headed notepaper said MTK Global Sports Management LLC was based at Room 3005, Cluster X3, Jumeriah Lake Towers, the same office used by Ducashew and Haizum. The phone number cited is the same as that cited on Ducashew and Haizum documents contained in the leaked files.

The name of the person who signed the January 2018 letter was not printed on it, but the signature is identical to Brinkmann’s as it appears on other documents in the leaked files.

Two months after the MTK Global letter, Brinkmann wrote a letter in her capacity as “legal rep” for Haizum to the DMCC. The letter was on Haizum notepaper, with the same office 3005 address, and the same phone number as the MTK letter.

The leaked files also contain a legal document where British national Alexandra Louise Thomson McClumpha gave a general power of attorney to Brinkmann.

McClumpha, who is from Scotland and also goes by her married name, Sandra Vaughan, bought MTK Global in 2017, completing the deal in October of that year, according to statements she has issued.

The leaked document in which she gave a general power of attorney to Brinkmann is date-stamped by a court in Dubai, bearing the date November 5th, 2017.

McClumpha/Vaughan gave Brinkmann to right to act her behalf and to “represent me and act on my behalf in managing my share in my companies and to represent the companies before third parties.”

She also gave Brinkmann the power to open, close, and operate bank accounts on her behalf, and to represent McClumpha/Vaughan before the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

MTK has its origins in Spain, where it was founded by Daniel Kinahan and a business partner. In a statement issued in 2018, Vaughan said the business had severed its connection with Kinahan in February of 2017.

Vaughan resigned as CEO of MTK in June 2020 against the backdrop of a controversy caused by heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury having publicly confirmed that Daniel Kinahan worked as his advisor.

In the wake of the US Treasury’s announcement last week that it was sanctioning the Kinahan brothers and their father, and offering $5 million awards for information leading to their conviction, MTK issued a statement in which it again said it had parted ways with Daniel Kinahan in February 2017. “He has had no interest in the business since then, and will have no future involvement with us.”

On Wednesday the business announced that it was closing, complaining that it has been subjected to unfair levels of scrutiny since the decision of the US authorities to sanction the Kinahans.

It said that, despite repeated assurances, unfounded allegations of Daniel Kinahan’s continued association with MTK had persisted.

“Since leading promoters have now informed us that they will be severing all ties with MTK and will no longer work with our fighters, we have taken the difficult decisions to cease all operations at the end of this month.”

On Thursday the Government of the UAE said it was freezing all Kinahan assets in its jurisdiction and would be continuing its investigations into the organised crime group in association with the authorities in Ireland, the UK, the US and Spain.

The Irish Times sought comments earlier this week by email from Christopher Kinahan senior and his two sons, as well as from Brinkmann, MTK Global/Vaughan/Aljassmi (all by way of MTK Global) and the embassy of the UAE in Dublin. However no responses were received. It has not been possible to make contact with Safraz Ali, or with Hadif Alktebi.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent

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