Billionaire’s shameful sex assault secret exposed
HE WAS a tycoon with an estimated worth of $5 billion, and was once one of the richest men in the United Kingdom.
Simon Halabi, 60, had built quite an impressive business empire which included a stake in the famous building the Shard, ownership of the city headquarters of JP Morgan and Old Mutual, and the Naval and Military Club in Piccadilly. He also purchased a range of mansions, along with chateux and a vineyard in France.
He enjoyed lavish cocktail parties, splashed cash on super cars such as Bentleys and a 40-metre long superyacht, and rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful.
But it turns out that Halabi had been keeping his shameful past a secret for 20 years while he made a fortune travelling the world - before eventually losing it all.
It has just emerged that Halabi was convicted of a violently raping a young woman in his home in 1998, London's Evening Standard reported. The shocking revelation emerged during a case brought against Halabi in Westminster magistrate's court yesterday.
Police records reveal he "slapped, punched and attempted to strangle" the woman as he dragged her to his bed with her hair. He was sentenced in a French court back in 2010 to three years in jail, suspended for five years.
Despite being placed on the French sex offenders register at the time, Halabi was able to keep his criminal past a secret as he moved to the UK and flew around the word to make business deals.
London MET police constable Alan Morgan, who brought the action against the former billionaire, claims the tycoon deliberately hid his rape conviction from US border officials. It's alleged that he had been convicted in France under the name Mohammed, but used his birth name of Simon on his passport in 2003.
"He has admitted frequent travel to the US, he has property in the Florida area, and from his own admission he lied on a number of occasions," Constable Morgan told the court yesterday.
"He ticked 'no arrests' and 'no convictions' on the landing forms. I'm sure he has travelled to many different countries around the world where visa requirements may require disclosure."
While the conviction was shared with UK authorities in 2012, investigators hadn't realised Mohammed Halabi was a name used by the business man.
His true identity was only confirmed last November.
Halabi's lawyer, Gudrun Young, told the court he doesn't accept the legitimacy of the conviction in France and is seeking to have it struck out.
Halabi said he was "extremely saddened by the outcome" and would "appeal it to the highest court if necessary".
Two years after the rape conviction, Halabi fell into hard times and became bankrupt. He had failed to pay back a $100 million bank loan, and was sued for divorce by wife Urte.
He appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List in 2007. He was one of the original developers of the Shard but a disagreement with business partners saw him pull out.