x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Briton fights extradition to Dubai

A Briton fighting extradition to Dubai to face embezzlement charges yesterday told a Thai court there was not enough evidence against him.

BANGKOK // A Briton fighting extradition to Dubai to face embezzlement charges yesterday told a Thai court there was not enough evidence against him. "I want to clear my name, but I am certain I will not get a fair trial in Dubai," Michael Smith, 43, told the two judges presiding over the hearing at the Bangkok Criminal Court.

Mr Smith is alleged to have siphoned off US$600,000 (Dh2.2 million) of employee salaries from the property company Limitless, a unit of Dubai government-owned Dubai World where he worked as a personnel manager between 2007 and 2008. The Dubai authorities claim Mr Smith used his own consultancy and recruitment company, registered in the United Kingdom, to siphon off the funds. He acknowledges that he does own such a company, but says it has been dormant since he moved to Asia some seven years ago.

This was Mr Smith's third appearance in court since he was arraigned in custody on May 21 last year. The prosecution presented their case in November. Mr Smith is challenging the extradition proceedings on the basis that there is no treaty as yet between the UAE and Thailand. Any extradition order has to be based on a credible case against him. He said that so far, the Dubai authorities have provided only a charge sheet from the local police on the basis of a statement from Dubai World accusing him of embezzlement.

"This is preposterous," he told The National before he entered the court. "There is no substantiation or evidence to back up the allegations, and no mention of numbers of staff that are supposed to have been duped. "There are no affidavits from the staff who I am supposed to have taken money from, and above all there is no list of names of people who are supposed to be embezzled." Mr Smith argued in court that the evidence against him did not meet minimum international standards for any informal extradition proceedings.

The defendant said he also feared for his security if he returned to Dubai. Mr Smith was detained after the UAE authorities tipped off the Thai police that he would probably visit a bar in the Nana area of Bangkok. He is being held in the high-security Klong Prem prison on the outskirts of the Thai capital. foreign.desk@thenational.ae