Former head of rights group GNRD faces million-dollar embezzlement charge

Loai Deeb, former head of the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD), has been formally charged with a series of financial crimes which include embezzling more than a million dollars from the organisation that he founded. He is said to have disguised his embezzlement through a fake contract to provide drinking water for refugees in Africa.

GNRD itself, which was based in Norway but funded almost entirely from mystery sources in the United Arab Emirates, was declared bankrupt in 2016 (background here).

Deeb, who faces trial in Norway, denies committing any crimes. The charges against him are summarised below:

1. Between February 2013 and August 2014 he misused 10,090,903 kroner ($1,247,000) of GNRD’s funds for internet gambling.

2. Under a fake contract with a company called Water and Sanitation Services the missing money was falsely accounted for as expenditure on safe drinking water for refugee camps in Africa.

3. He created fictional employment for an Iranian man which allowed him to obtain a residence permit.

4. In connection with the residence permit he gave the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) an incorrect explanation of the Iranian man’s working relationship with GNRD.

5. Use of forged documents with unlawful intent:

a) In May 2014 he submitted to GNRD’s accountants a fake sponsorship agreement between GNRD and a company called Lana Interiors. The document was purportedly signed by GNRD’s vice-president Abozer Mohamed, even though he had neither signed it nor given his consent that the signature could be used.

b) In June 2014 he submitted the fake contract with Water and Sanitation Services to GNRD’s accountants, which resulted in false accounts being presented to the UN in connection with GNRD’s application for consultative status with ECOSOC.

c) Between October 2014 and February 2015 he submitted false accounts for GNRD’s Jordanian office in connection with GNRD’s application for consultative status with ECOSOC.

6. On or before June 8, 2017, he submitted false documents to the tax office. These were a confirmation from the Papyrus Travel of delivered services amounting to $171,485 and six invoices totalling $1,112,371 from the fictitious travel company EVKTRIP.

7. Between June 2013 to March 2015 he imported into Norway gold or jewellery worth approximately 800,000 kroner ($100,000) without declaring it to customs.

Former Middle East editor of the Guardian. Website: www.al-bab.com. Author of 'Arabs Without God'.

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