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Maryland company wins $45M over deal gone sour

A foreign telecommunications company has been ordered to pay its Linthicum Heights-based business partner more than $45 million after taking investment funds to build a cellphone network in Iraq and then backing out on the deal.

Judge Timothy J. McCrone awarded Aramtel Ltd. and its director, Jay Salkini, $30.5 million in compensatory damages in June after finding that Dynacorp Ltd. owner Faisal Fadul breached his agreement with Salkini and committed fraud. The Howard County Circuit Court judge has since added $14.6 million in interest to the award.

Fadul bought a wireless local loop (WLL) license in 2005 from the Iraqi Telecommunications and Post Co. — Iraq’s version of the Federal Communications Commission. Aramtel funded the infrastructure needed to use the license and create the wireless network company Salkini and Fadul would call Moutiny Ltd.

The ITPC suspended all WLL licenses temporarily in August 2006. Steven E. Tiller, a partner in the Baltimore office of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP, said Fadul assured Salkini their license would be reinstated, and Aramtel kept funding the project. Then, in May 2007, Fadul suddenly announced he would not be able to get the license reinstated and he was quitting the project.

But Salkini learned from the Iraqi government that the license had, in fact, been reinstated that month and Fadul had immediately transferred it to another company, Al Nakheel.

“Mr. Fadul flat out lied to Salkini,” Tiller said.

McCrone agreed.

“This Court finds that Fadul perpetrated a fraud on Moutiny and Aramtel by transferring the WLL license to Al Nakheel,” McCrone wrote in his judgment.

Tiller said Aramtel has filed post-trial motions seeking additional money, including attorneys’ fees, punitive damages where fraud was found and damages for the value of the license he said Fadul “stole” from his client.

“If somebody steals your car and you don’t have your car anymore, they should have to pay you for the value of the car,” Tiller said in an interview. “Similarly, if someone takes your license, they should have to pay you for the value of it.”

David P. Callet of Greenberg Traurig LLP in Washington, D.C., attorney for Dynacorp and Fadul, said “of course” he plans to appeal the decision but would not comment further.

Salkini, a Columbia resident, partnered with Fadul in April 2006 and agreed to lend their joint venture up to $25 million of Aramtel money to fund the purchase of telecommunications equipment, along with $5 million for operating expenses.

Fadul was named managing member of Moutiny, which was to serve mainly as a holding company for the license until the network was up and running. The two expected that the Moutiny network would be launched in October 2006, and Fadul projected net profits of up to $1.45 billion after five years.

The court found that Fadul breached his contract when the WLL license was reinstated and he issued it to Al Nakheel in violation of several non-compete clauses in the contract he had signed with Salkini.

“We think that this Al Nakheel company is operating a telecommunications network in Iraq, by what we can tell, making a lot of money,” Tiller said. “We believe that they are utilizing our license among other licenses.”

Fadul and United Arab Emirates-based Dynacorp sued Salkini and Aramtel in Howard County Circuit Court on Feb. 12, 2008, for failing to provide suitable software, equipment and funds for the wireless network. But the court denied those claims on June 21, 2011, while granting judgment in Aramtel’s countersuit against Fadul for breach of contract and fraud. The court awarded Aramtel $30.5 million in compensatory damages and about $11 million in interest at the time of the judgment and ordered about another $4 million in interest on Aug. 18.

Fadul is a Virginia resident, Tiller said, but recovering the damages from Dynacorp in a dispute that originated in Iraq might be tricky.

“The foreign aspect of this may prove to be an obstacle as far as collecting on the judgment,” Tiller said.

DYNACORP LTD. V. ARAMTEL LTD.

Court:

Howard County Circuit Court

Case No.:

13-C-08-072145

Judge:

Timothy J. McCrone

Outcome:

Defense verdict

Dates:

Event: April 12, 2006 to May 2007

Suit filed: Feb. 12, 2008

Verdict: June 21, 2011

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys:

David P. Callet and Precious Murchison Gittens of Greenberg Traurig LLP

Defendants’ Attorneys:

Steven E. Tiller, Albert J. Mezznotte Jr. and Ilana Subar of Whiteford, Taylor and Preston LLP, and Stephen D. Hayes.

Counts:

Breach of contract and fraud.