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US: New group aims to 'shine light' on corruption in Middle East business world

Global Justice Foundation aims to root out corruption in business dealings in region, says founder Omar Ayesh
Omar Ayesh (centre) says new foundation will seek justice for victims of Middle East corruption (MEE)
By in
Washington

A new group has announced plans to tackle corruption in the Middle East, with a particular focus on helping victims of business fraud in the region.

During a news conference in Washington on Thursday, the Global Justice Foundation's founder, Omar Ayesh, said the group plans to focus first on the Middle East and later expand its efforts elsewhere.

It will seek to provide technical and financial support to people who say they have been the victims of government corruption, especially in the realm of international business, Ayesh said.

"Wherever there is a case with clear evidence of corruption, we will do an investigation and shine a light to help the authorities take the legal steps and do whatever is needed to take action and protect justice," he said.

Ayesh, a Palestinian-Canadian businessman living in the United States, told Middle East Eye that he has been a victim of white-collar crime, which he said was tied to government corruption in the United Arab Emirates.

'I am totally convinced that the kind of corruption we are talking about works perfectly in the dark, but it cannot work whatsoever in the light, so I need to shine the light'

- Omar Ayesh, founder of the Global Justice Foundation

He said he remains tied up in an ongoing, 11-year battle over one of his businesses.

The Emirati embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.

"In my case, the justice system has not been sufficient enough to give me my rights, so I had to look for some other tools in order to help push forward justice," Ayesh told MEE.

He said he started the foundation as a way to help others who lack the means to advocate for themselves.

"I am totally convinced that the kind of corruption we are talking about works perfectly in the dark, but it cannot work whatsoever in the light, so I need to shine the light and to send that message," he said.

Kenneth Starr, an ex-US circuit judge, former US solicitor general and independent counsel who investigated the Clinton administration, will serve as volunteer legal counsel for the foundation.

"The foundation does not stand alone, increasingly across the world, there are foundations and institutes that are starting to speak out," ​​​​​​said Starr, who was the keynote speaker at Thursday's event in Washington.

"The lights are being turned on around the world," he said.