One of the first developers picked last month to build Dubai World's Maritime City project left the country in 2009 after allegedly bouncing cheques worth Dh18 million (US$4.9m).
But Mohammed Noorul Haq, the chief executive of Sanali Group, says he has now erased all his debts and is ready to return to the UAE.
"We have cleared it all," Mr Haq said from his office in India. "Everything is settled."
Mr Haq's legal issues arose over a buy-back programme used to attract investors at the height of the market. Mr Haq told potential buyers the company would buy back the purchased property at a higher price, and guaranteed the deal with post-dated cheques.
Those cheques were never meant to be cashed until the property was sold to a third party, Mr Haq said yesterday.
The funds have now been paid, he says. He provided The National with documents from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department and the Dubai prosecutor's office confirming he is no longer sought on charges in the specific cases, as well as waivers from several of the investors.
Mr Haq says he also settled several disputes over land purchases, typically by paying about 50 per cent less than the balance due.
But people who bought property in other Dubai developments claim there are still financial issues to resolve.
The Sanali Group, which has developed several projects in India, planned 11 residential and office projects in Dubai before 2009. None were built, and investors who claim they paid millions of dirhams in deposits are demanding refunds.
"I've been trying to get him to give my money back," said Yusuf Thakur, the owner of a television production company in Dubai, who says he paid Dh1m towards the purchase of two offices in the unbuilt Sanali Business Tower.
Mr Haq has been offering investors a deal to transfer their purchases to an office tower near completion in Arjan, but many have refused.
The money paid by the buyers has already been spent on land and development costs, he says.
"We cannot give back [the money], so the best option is to come to an understanding," Mr Haq said.
About half of the 70 buyers have accepted a deal to consolidate their deposits in an office tower under construction, Mr Haq said.
While negotiations continue, Mr Haq says he is ready to start building again in Dubai. Sanali is moving forward with the Sanali Tower, an office project in the Majan area of Dubailand, off Emirates Road, he said. Mr Haq says he is still awaiting final clearance from one case but expects to return to Dubai "very soon". And he is still a believer in the Dubai market.
"I think it is the right time to invest in Dubai," Mr Haq said. "One hundred per cent it will come back. No doubt about it."
Dubai Maritime City was announced in 2003 and billed as the "world's largest maritime development". Plans called for shipyards, docks and a maritime university to mix with residential and commercial developments on the 227-hectare man-made peninsula.
Sanali is planning to build a Dh500m office, residential and retail complex in Dubai Maritime City's business district, the area designed as the commercial and economic hub of the project. Sanali plans to start construction in the "next six to seven months" on the Maritime City development, Mr Haq said. He does not intend to market the project before it is built.
"I'm not going to sell the project now," Mr Haq said. "We are investing our money and we have some foreign fund investors.
"Naturally we need to convince people of what we are. We have to show ability to do it."
Executives with Drydocks and Maritime World, the Dubai World subsidiary unit developing Dubai Maritime City, could not be reached for comment.