Entrepreneur Selina Waterman-Smith has been warned she faces being locked up if she doesn’t pay £27,750 – despite claiming she never wrote any cheque.
She claims she has been the victim of harassment and extortion for nearly five years after a former business associate exploited a loophole in the UAE that meant she could be convicted while she was abroad.
Waterman-Smith, 39, says she was found guilty in her absence without any examination of the evidence as the complainant had supplied the wrong contact information for her.
And as part of her defence, the reality-show star claims a South African man has been harassing and extorting her since 2019, prompting her to file a complaint with the Dubai Police.
She said the whole ordeal saw her diagnosed with PCOS, anaemia, adrenal exhaustion, a kidney infection, and hair loss from acute stress.
As a result of the court ruling against her, Selina has been stuck in the UAE with a travel ban for two years, without a bank account or medical insurance, a blocked trade licence, and a soon-to-be-cancelled residency visa.
She said: “There have been times in the last two years where I have suffered extreme depression, as I can’t see any other way of escaping his abuse.
“He seems to relish having power over me and destroying a strong woman. A man so brazen about threats, harassment, and committing fraud, is a real danger to me, and potentially other female victims.”
Waterman-Smith, who starred in the 2015 Apprentice series, claims the male complainant initially posed as a wealthy investor and reached out to her growing restaurant business in 2018.
But after their business arrangement broke down, she says he started demanding a salary from the business, an allowance to rent office space, and regular dividends – despite not investing the agreed capital.
Selena claims when she refused his request he became “very aggressive” and would threaten her over the phone – leaving her in a constant state of fear and stress.
She later says she discovered his back story had been “fabricated” and he wasn’t legally permitted to invest in the UAE.
She added: “He continued to cyberstalk me daily, via threats and invasive action, and find ways to intimidate me wherever I was.
“The love-bombing in the beginning with grand claims about his potential contribution to my business, and then his switch into an aggressive monster leads me to believe that this is narcissistic abuse.”
She claims she has also repeatedly spoken to police and lawyers about the ongoing abuse, which has now been going on for nearly five years.
Selina said she eventually had little choice but to eventually close her business – writing off her own £75,000 investment.
But she claims the abuse continued and he was kept tabs on her movements via her social media and when she left the UAE in 2021 for a much-needed vacation, he filed a civil case just a few days later – over a bounce cheque.
This carried a draconian punishment in the UAE including seizure of assets, a travel ban, and jail time. She says no cheque was mentioned in his testimony, but instead a claim that Selina borrowed money from him and refused to return it – a claim she denies.
Despite her claiming scant evidence and no cheque, the court has refused to grant an appeal, claiming that his testimony is sufficient.
Detained in Dubai, who is supporting Waterman-Smith, confirmed there was no financial proof of any cheque in the full case file, which was never examined in court.
Radha Stirling, of Detained in Dubai, said: “Securing a conviction against a rival in the UAE is often simply as easy as making an accusation, as we see in Selina’s case.
“No substantial evidence is required, no proof, and the accused is frequently never even made aware of the case until they discover they have been convicted.
“It is disturbing that Selina decided to give the country a second chance after the nightmare of her violent assault 10 years prior, only to once again find herself victimised by both a ruthless predator and the legal system that unquestioningly took his side.
“It is a harrowing and cautionary tale – one of countless others – that Western tourists and business people should keep uppermost in their minds when considering visiting or moving to the UAE.”