x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Former Deyaar chief embezzled funds for personal use, Dubai court told

Former CEO of the property developer Deyaar allegedly used company money for lavish personal expenses, including hiring a private jet.

DUBAI // The former chief executive of the property developer Deyaar allegedly used company money for lavish personal expenses, including hiring a private jet for Dh173,000 (US$47,000), a court heard yesterday. The executive, ZS, and nine other employees are accused of creating an intricate web of land deals and questionable transactions involving about Dh800m. Mohammed Mustafa Hussain, the investigator appointed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, told the Dubai Court of First Instance that ZS had failed to provide receipts and ledgers for expenses such as the cost of hiring the private plane for a day. Mr Hussain said that each of the nine who had worked under ZS were complicit in the alleged fraud. He added that in one deal, ZS and the other defendants had wilfully worked together and facilitated illegal practices that created a loss of Dh132m to Deyaar. Mr Hussain said ZS had requested power of attorney to make it easier for the company to buy and sell properties by not having each transaction approved by Deyaar's board. "He requested that he be authorised, and so he was," Mr Hussain said. "He was trusted by the board and given a power of attorney." Mr Hussain said ZS and the other defendants bought land below market prices, then sold it on to Deyaar for a profit. He said pay-offs, including Dh300,000 given to the brother of Deyaar's board chairman, were often made. He also spoke of a US$15m transfer to a Dubai start-up to pay for a property development in Turkey there that was worth only $13m. In June, ZS pleaded not guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for granting discounts and other facilities amounting to Dh56.6m to a former UAE minister of state. ZS, a US citizen of Lebanese origin, is charged with receiving in bribes six million shares in Deyaar, 380,000 shares in Tamweel, 145,000 shares in Dubai Islamic Bank, and Dh17.9m from his co-defendant, a former minister of state, MK, 52, to allow MK to take possession of money belonging to Deyaar and Dubai Islamic Bank. The presiding judge, Saeed Barghouth, yesterday adjourned proceedings until July 22, when he will begin to hear the defence attorneys plead their clients' cases before him. ealghalib@thenational.ae