x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Former Deyaar chief denies taking bribes for discounts

The former chief executive of the property developer Deyaar pleads not guilty to accepting bribes.

DUBAI // The former chief executive of the property developer Deyaar, Z S, yesterday pleaded not guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for granting discounts and other facilities amounting to Dh56.6 million (US$15.4m) to a former UAE minister of state. Z S's lawyer, Ali al Shamsi, asked the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance to grant bail, pointing out that his client had been held since March 2008 but that the reason for his precautionary detention - the ongoing investigation - had been completed and was no longer a bar to his release.

He said Z S had health problems. Z S, 43, a US citizen of Lebanese origin, is charged with receiving in bribes six million shares of Deyaar stock, 380,000 shares of Tamweel stock, 145,000 shares of Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) stock, and Dh17.9m from his co-defendant, a former minister of state, M K, 52, to allow M K to take possession of money belonging to Deyaar and DIB. Z S is also charged with accepting a bribe of Dh500,000 from another buyer at Deyaar in exchange for granting that buyer discounts of Dh9.6m on the sale of property units belonging to Deyaar.

M K is charged with taking advantage of his position as chairman of DIB, to which he was appointed by the Dubai Government, as well as his position at Deyaar, to take possession of Dh56.6m belonging to DIB and Deyaar. M K, who is not in custody, was in court yesterday and also pleaded not guilty. M K is also charged with harming the interests of DIB and Deyaar and with allowing Z H to take possession of Dh53.5m belonging to DIB and Deyaar. In the bill of indictment M K is deemed to have "intentionally harmed the interests of the country" by profiting from and taking possession of money belonging to Deyaar and allowing Z H to do the same.

MK's lawyer, Sameer Jaafar, asked the court for a four-week adjournment to allow time to study the extensive case file and prepare a defence. Judge Saeed Barghouth agreed, but Z H's bail was denied as he has another misdemeanour case pending against him. A third defendant, J D, 40, the Indian former operations and finance director at Deyaar, is charged with asking for and accepting a bribe of Dh20m from a company in exchange for allowing it to win tenders to develop four projects belonging to Deyaar. J D did not appear in court and is listed as absconded.

hbathish@thenational.ae