A PHARMACIST turned investor from Blackburn has lost a High Court battle to unfreeze worldwide assets up to a value of £34million.

Shokat Dalal has been in dispute with a Dubai company called The World for some time over payment for the purchase of a number of man-made islands off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, the High Court was told.

And after years of legal wrangling, the civil courts in Dubai awarded The World a sum just short of £31.5million, the court heard.

Lawyers representing The World secured a worldwide freezing order on Mr Dalal’s assets from an English judge last April.

An application was then made by Mr Dalal to discharge the order, on the grounds the Dubai judgement should not be enforced in a UK jurisdiction.

The property company has been concerned with various aspects of Mr Dalal’s financial affairs, amid claims he had been trying to dissipate his assets for some time, the court heard.

Questions were raised over the transfer of a property, owned by him, in Buncer Lane to his wife Samiya, in 2011, while Mr Dalal was allegedly being pursued for payment over the islands.

He is also said to have acquired the freehold for the family home, Barcroft, in Carr Lane, for £862,500, in 2007 and later registered a charge against in favour of Elliot Investments Ltd, a firm he controls.

Shares in Elliot Investments in the UK had also been transferred to a similar Dubai venture then a Hong Kong entity, controlled through a Belize-registered trust, partly owned by Mrs Dalal.

Michael McParland QC, for Mr Dalal, said his client objected to the assets freezing order on several grounds, insisting there was no real risk of his holdings being dissipated and World had made false representations about a credible possible fraud defence open to him.

But Mrs Justice Carr, refusing permission for the order to be dropped, firstly ruled on the Buncer Lane transfer.

"No explanation has been provided as to why that transfer, for nil consideration, took place," she told the court.

The judge also said she could not identify any "sound commercial explanation" as to why a charge was created over the family home at Barcroft.

Shares dealings between his Elliot companies were also "evidence of risk of dissipation" as this indicated he was trying to divest himself of his interests in the UK, said the judge.

Mrs Justice Carr added: "World can point to the fact that Mr Dalal appears to have gone from being the 'sole breadwinner' with a financially dependent wife... to having no (or only very modest) assets and an independently wealthy wife able to provide some £11million to assist him.

"No explanation has been proffered for what appears to be a significant change in Mr Dalal's personal fortunes.

"Mr Dalal's declaration as to (lack of) income also does not sit easily with his direct debits for school fees, or his recent holidays to Kenya and Mauritius."

The judge said that, on all the available evidence, there were "good grounds" for maintaining the assets freezing order.