millionaire British businessman fears dying in a Dubai prison after being jailed over his son’s business debts. Albert Douglas, 60, fears spending the rest of his life in jail over a crime he did not commit.
The grandfather spent thousands fighting to prove he was not liable for money owed by his son Wolfgang’s business.
He became so desperate at one point he attempted to escape the country into neighbouring Oman.
However, he was arrested as he tried to climb a border fence and hauled off to notorious Al Ain prison.
Albert has since spent two months in the ‘hell hole’ jail where he claimed he was beaten by guards when he asked for his heart medication.
The family man says his only ‘crime’ had been to be listed on legal documents of a flooring company his son set up over 10 years ago.
Under Dubai law anyone linked to a company that owes money can be found liable for their debts, and family members are often pursued for payments.
Because Wolfgang, 34, was in Britain when the company got into trouble, creditors took Albert to court and won a judgement against him instead.
Speaking from prison Albert told MailOnline: ‘I fear that I will not get out of here alive. ‘I am innocent and being made to pay the penalty for the debts of my son.
I would not wish this on my worst enemy. ‘I had nothing to do with the company other than my name being on the documents when it was founded.’ Albert and his wife Naomi emigrated to Dubai in 2003 and he built up a successful business called Alomni Flooring, specialising in real wood floors.
The company thrived during the property boom that saw holiday homes and hotels transform the UAE into a top destination.
Father-of-four Albert was living in a luxury villa on the Palm Jumeriah Island and driving a Rolls Royce at the height of his success, when he persuaded his children to move to Dubai.
Wolfgang started the company TimberWolf in 2007 and his father was one of the signatories on the business.
Albert gave up involvement in 2018, but a year later when Wolfgang returned to the UK for medical treatment and cheques written to suppliers began to bounce, creditors launched legal action and filed claims against the father and son.
Wolfgang attempted to sort things out from the UK as he knew he would be arrested if he returned to Dubai.
He tried to persuade his father, who has heart problems, to come home after reading ‘horror stories’ about family members being used as leverage in financial disputes.
But Albert didn’t believe anything would happen to him as he had done nothing wrong.
Then in September 2019 he was arrested and found liable for his son’s debts.
A court imposed a three-year sentence as well as ordering him to pay £2.5m in fines.
He was given bail while appealing against the sentence and spent more than £850,000 on legal fees protesting his innocence.
After his appeal failed in February he decided to attempt to flee Dubai by crossing the border with Oman.
He paid a people smuggler to take him to a remote border crossing but was arrested before he could escape.
After serving two months in Al Ain he was taken to the Bur Dubai jail where others convicted of financial crimes are held.
Pressure Group Detained in Dubai said his nightmare is unlikely to end even after serving his three year sentence, as a civil case will be taken against Albert.
This will affect his own business, meaning he won’t be able to pay the fines, resulting in another prison sentence and a travel ban ‘so he will never be able to leave’.
Wolfgang said the ordeal had torn his family apart. ‘Through no fault of his own my father has been financially destroyed and penniless, locked up and treated worse than an animal in a cage in horrific conditions,’ he said.
‘My father has lost everything and from being a wealthy business owner and property investor had been totally stripped of his assets and dignity for no reason.
He did not commit any crime. He has now been engulfed in an unending onslaught of cases that stack up each day and that he cannot defend or remedy from jail.
‘My autistic brother is held in Dubai.
They’ve confiscated his passport and he can’t take care of himself, so my other brother had to go and look after him.
I can’t go because I’ll be jailed on arrival. It’s torn us apart. ‘We have given basically every penny to lawyers and to anyone taking cases, hoping we could solve the problem, but it wasn’t ever enough.’
Family members have launched a Facebook page to raise awareness of Mr Douglas’s ordeal.
His family fear for his health and have begun a campaign to get him released, enlisting the help of Detained in Dubai. Founder Radha Stirling said: ‘Albert had nothing to do with his son’s company.
He is being held as hostage to force his family to pay for his son’s company’s liabilities.’ The pressure group said it was not Wolfgang’s fault cheques had bounced as this was a ‘chain effect’ of market fluctuations causing suppliers and trade partners to default on their obligations.
Ms Stirling said: ‘We see it all the time.
Often it’s Dubai government agencies themselves, that default on contractual agreements and their own obligations.
‘Their default then causes the foreign owned company to default on their obligations but the foreigners have no immunity and they often end up in jail for something that simply wasn’t their fault.
‘It’s quite often the price of doing business in the UAE, and it’s largely outside your control.
People’s entire lives have been ruined because a Dubai government agency decided not to pay, and there’s nothing you can do about it, even if the law is on your side.’