x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Deyaar trial postponed after chief investigator fails to appear in court

The trial of a former Deyaar chief executive, ZS, and a former federal minister, MK, has been postponed.

Dubai // The trial of a former Deyaar chief executive, ZS, and a former federal minister, MK, was postponed yesterday after the main prosecution witness failed to appear at court. No explanation was given for the absence of Mohammed Mustafa Hussain, the director of the Financial Audit Department at the Ruler's Office, who was assigned to investigate corruption at the developer. The National attempted to contact his office, but there was no response.

MK, who is currently on bail, was in court. ZS was not present but is in police custody. He had posted Dh2 million (US$540,000) bail in this case but is being held in custody on different charges. JD, another defendant, has absconded. MK, a former head of Deyaar, is accused of using his previous position as Minister of Finance and Industry to illegally facilitate payments from Deyaar to ZS. ZS, an American citizen of Lebanese descent, pleaded not guilty in June to accepting bribes in exchange for granting discounts and other facilities amounting to Dh56.6m to MK.

He is charged with receiving in bribes six million Deyaar shares, 380,000 Tamweel shares, 145,000 Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) shares, and Dh17.9m from MK to allow him to take possession of money belonging to Deyaar and DIB. Mr Mustafa had been due to face questions from the defence lawyer, Samir Jafar, about the case. The trial was postponed until August 11 at Mr Jafar's request. The case is one of several before the Dubai Court this year that have resulted from Mr Mustafa's investigation into corporate corruption in Dubai. The inquiry was commissioned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE.

Cases have been filed against employees at Nakheel, Deyaar, Sama Dubai, Mizin, Dubai Industrial City, which is a part of Tatweer, and others. Charges have included misappropriation of funds, bribery, overcharging and undercharging for properties, as well as illegal commissions and kickbacks. ealghalib@thenational.ae