North Africa/Middle East

KPMG LLP was sued for at least $600 million over its role in the insolvency of Dubai private-equity firm Abraaj Group, the latest in a string of complaints of sloppy auditing made against the Big Four firm, Bloomberg News reported. The claimants, two units of Abraaj now in liquidation, allege that KPMG accountants “failed to maintain independence and an appropriate attitude of professional skepticism,” and breached their duty of care when auditing the private-equity firm, according to court documents filed in Dubai on Nov. 3.
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A United Arab Emirates prosecutor has ordered the detention of the chairman of Dubai-based Union Properties PJSC pending an investigation into alleged financial violations at one of the country’s biggest developers, Bloomberg News reported. Khalifa Al Hammadi’s detention was requested by the Federal Public Funds Prosecution and “the case is still under investigation,” the company said in a stock market disclosure, citing a letter from the authorities. A spokesman for Union Properties declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg on Tuesday.
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Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with one of the world’s biggest bond clearing systems to settle transactions in its debt market, Bloomberg News reported. The deal between the kingdom’s Securities Depository Center Company, known as Edaa, and Brussels-based Euroclear Bank will give foreign investors access to the sukuk and bond market within the Saudi Exchange. Under the terms of an agreement signed at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, the link is expected to become operational in March 2022, according to a statement on Wednesday.
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Morocco's draft 2022 budget projects a 9% rise in total spending to 519 billion dirhams ($57 billion) according to Finance Ministry documents officially made public on Tuesday after headline deficit and growth forecasts were announced last week, Reuters reported. The budget plan aims to spur economic recovery amid the pandemic and boost spending on public investment, education, health and social welfare, Finance Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui told reporters.
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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Lebanese authorities have started technical discussions to pull the country out of its crisis, a senior IMF official said, stressing the need to address the losses faced by the financial sector, Reuters reported. An IMF programme is widely seen as the only way Lebanon can unlock foreign financial help which it desperately needs to emerge from one of the world's sharpest economic depressions.
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Dubai’s key tourism sector is unlikely to rebound for at least a year, according to S&P Global Ratings, Bloomberg News reported. While the city will witness a modest recovery this year helped by one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, “weak international tourism is likely to drag on the economy until late 2022 at the earliest,” Ratings Credit Analyst Trevor Cullinan said on Tuesday.
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Tunisia is participating in the International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings, but there are no imminent visits planned by the lender to the North African country, a central bank official said, a day after a state-owned TV channel reported a delegation was due, Bloomberg News reported. Reporting Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s Wednesday comments on Tunisia’s troubled economy, Wataniya 1 said they came “on the eve of the visit of a delegation from the International Monetary Fund to Tunisia on a week-long mission to discuss the possibilities of resuming negotiations” on assistance.
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The United Arab Emirates approved its federal budget to 2026 and focused most of next year’s spending on social benefits and development, Bloomberg News reported. The Gulf country approved a total of 58.9 billion dirhams ($16 billion) of spending in 2022, nearly the same as last year. Most of the spending is going to development and social benefits, according to the state-run WAM news agency. Nearly 16% will go to higher education, 6% to social affairs, 8.4% to the health sector and 3.8% to infrastructure and economic resources.
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