DUBAI // A former Dubai Industrial City sales manager accused of charging clients almost Dh17 million in illegal commissions and said he deserved the money pleaded not guilty in a court yesterday. The defendant, AZ, a 32-year-old Emirati, appeared before the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance charged with misappropriating public funds. He allegedly charged eight clients extra commissions on a number of sale and rental agreements for land belonging to Dubai Industrial City, a member of Tatweer, Dubai's state-owned property developer, that was set up on 560 million sq ft of land to help spur industrial growth.
The vice president of Dubai International City, RA, alleged in his testimony that the defendant received as much as Dh30m in illegal payments from clients between when he started his job in June 2006 and when he was fired in July 2007 following an internal audit. Prosecutors did not say why he was charged with misappropriating only Dh17m. The defendant allegedly lied to clients that there were no more plots of land available, and that he could arrange for them to acquire ones already owned or rented by other people, but that they would have to pay the current landlords a premium. In reality, however, the plots had not been previously sold or rented.
"Although most clients know [Dubai Industrial City] policy, which forbids reselling or subleasing plots, they still went ahead with these transactions," RA told prosecutors. The executive added that AZ returned Dh800,000 he illegally took from a client on his last sale before he was released by the company. The defendant is alleged to have deposited the illegal commissions into a bank account of a company registered in the names of his mother and sister.
One of his clients, identified as TK from Denmark, testified that the defendant asked for an extra Dh1.9m to purchase three plots of land at the development. He confirmed that TK told him the money was a commission for the previous owners of the plots. He also said he had asked who they were, but AZ told him they did not wish to reveal their identities. In his statement to prosecutors, the defendant said he deserved the commissions because he had generated Dh200m worth of business for the company through his personal contacts.
The judge adjourned the case until March 19 to allow the defence time to call witnesses and prepare its case. firstname.lastname@example.org