UAE ex-minister pleads not guilty

Shadiah Abdullah | Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2009-05-25 03:00

DUBAI: The UAE’s former minister of State for Finance and Industry, Dr. Mohammed Khalfan bin Kharbash, yesterday, appeared in the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance and pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzlement.

Kharbash, the former chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), was charged with two counts of causing AED56.6 million worth of damage to the bank.

He was also charged with two charges of causing damage worth AED53.5 million to Deyaar, the property affiliate of the bank. The Dubai government holds a 30 percent stake in DIB while the bank holds a 45 percent stake in Deyaar. A composed Kharbash, who is on bail, denied the charges. His lawyers refused to speak to the press.

The Public Prosecution also charged Zack Shahin, former CEO of Deyaar, and John Dakonha, former chief financial officer of Deyaar, with embezzlement and accepting bribes.

The prosecution also accused Kharbash of helping Shahin take possession of AED53.5 million belonging to Deyaar. Shahin’s plea for bail, on grounds of health reasons, was denied. Shahin, an American citizen, is also charged with abusing his authority as CEO of Deyaar and asking for bribes.

Meanwhile, the Fujairah Criminal Court yesterday sentenced a former top municipal official to seven years in jail in what is considered to be a landmark case against corruption in the emirate. This is the first time that such a top official has been charged and sentenced to jail for such an offence.

Rashid Abdullah, the former director-general of Furjairah Municipality, was found guilty of forgery and offering bribes.

Abdullah, an Emirati, was sentenced in absentia to three years for bribery and four years for forgery.

Seven other municipal officials were also tried in the same case, which involved forgery of official documents, embezzlement of public funds and illegal possession of land and shops belonging to the municipality. Three of them were found not guilty of the charges. None of the accused attended the court hearing.

The court also found the former head of the municipality’s planning section, an Emirati, guilty of two charges and sentenced him to a total of six years in jail. He was also fined AED80,000.

The former head of the land distribution section was also found guilty of forgery and was sentenced to three years.

An Egyptian female municipality employee, who coordinated the shady deals, was sentenced to six and a half years for acting as a mediator and for facilitating the acceptance of bribes.

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