Simon Halabi, a former billionaire property developer and Shard tycoon, has been revealed as a convicted sex offender.
The 60 year-old, who once had an estimated fortune of £3 billion, managed to keep his shameful past as a rapist hidden for two decades.
Formerly one of Britain’s richest men, Halabi enjoyed a life of luxury homes and cars, champagne parties, and a Mayfair-based business empire.
The Syrian-born tycoon fell on hard times during the credit crunch and was declared bankrupt in 2010.
It has now emerged that Halabi was convicted by a French court in 1998 of violently raping a woman in her early 20s who was trapped in his home.
According to the report in the Evening Standard, he “slapped, punched and attempted to strangle” the woman, grabbing her by the hair and dragging her to his bed. He raped her after she tried to flee but found the gate could be opened only from inside the house.
Halabi “threatened her with death if she were to report” the attack, before letting her leave, the police papers state.
The Shard developer was sentenced at the assizes court of Alpes-Maritimes, south-east France, to three years in jail, suspended for five years.
Despite being put on the French sex offenders register, Halabi was able to hide his criminal past as he made his fortune in the UK and travelled the world.
At Westminster magistrates’ court this week, District Judge Michael Snow approved a Met police application for Halabi to be the subject of strict notification rules as a convicted sex offender.
He rejected Halabi’s claims that the application was made “in bad faith”, as it was two decades after his conviction, and that it was an attempt to manipulate the system.
The tycoon was made bankrupt in 2010 after failing to pay back a £56 million bank loan, and was later sued for divorce by his wife Urte.
Imposing notification requirements indefinitely, the judge said: “I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Mr Halabi was convicted of a relevant offence.”
Halabi, who owned property in Mayfair and Buckinghamshire as well as a French chateau, was one of the original developers of the Shard, but pulled out after a disagreement with business partners.
Bringing the application in court, Dc Alan Morgan accused Halabi of concealing his rape conviction from US border officials.
The Met investigator said: “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. 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.”
Halabi was convicted in France under the name Mohammed, but reverted to his birth name of Simon on his passport in 2003. When the conviction was disclosed to UK authorities in 2012 under data sharing protocols, investigators did not know Mohammed Halabi was a name used by the tycoon.
It was not until November 2017 that the Met confirmed his identity, the Evening Standard reported.
After the case, Halabi said he was “extremely saddened by the outcome” and vowed to “appeal it to the highest court if necessary”.