EY ordered to pay $10.8 mln to whistleblower in Dubai gold audit case

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A London court on Friday ordered accounting giant Ernst & Young to pay millions of pounds in damages to a whistleblower auditor who raised concerns about a Dubai gold refiner client.

Amjad Rihan was awarded £8.6 million ($10.8 million) after claiming the firm had tried to suppress a report that uncovered various problems with the refiner, Kaloti Jewellery International.

Read more: Top Dubai refiner obeying conflict gold rules, audit finds

Lawyers for Rihan, a former partner at Ernst & Young, said the problems included billions of dollars worth of cash transactions and attempts to deceive authorities by importing large quantities of gold which had been coated with silver.

It was also alleged that the Gulf-based company was involved in buying gold from conflict zones.

Rihan claimed he lost his job with EY, the accountancy firm's new name, after he raised concerns about the violations.

On Friday, the High Court in London agreed with him, handing down its ruling following a three-week trial earlier this year.

Read more: Gold industry shifts east as Dubai plans huge refinery

In a statement, Rihan said, “Almost seven years of agony for me and my family has come to an end with a total vindication by the court.

“My life was turned upside down as I was cruelly and harshly punished for insisting on doing my job ethically, professionally and lawfully in relation to the gold audits in Dubai.

“The court ruled in my favour and found that EY breached its duties towards me, for which I am very grateful.”

EY told the BBC it was “surprised and disappointed by the judge's decision” and would appeal.

“It was the work of an EY Dubai assurance team that uncovered serious irregularities and reported them to the proper authorities. Their work ultimately resulted in sanctions against the refiner and contributed to significant changes in the sourcing of precious metals and the regulation of refiners in Dubai,” EY said in a statement.

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