x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Auditor embezzled Dh3.3m meant for Jumeirah Gardens investors

A Lebanese auditor for Meeras Holdings is charged in absentia after transferring the money from his Dubai account to one in Jordan.

DUBAI // A man who formerly worked as an auditor for Meeras Holdings was charged in absentia yesterday with helping to steal Dh3.3 million intended to compensate individuals who lost money when the developer scrapped its flagship Jumeirah Gardens project. Prosecutors told the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance that RN, who is from Lebanon, transferred Dh3m from his Dubai bank account to Jordan, where it was retrieved by Eyad Hussam Eldin, who also worked for Meeras.

Eldin was convicted in January of embezzling Dh3.3m from the company - money that had been set aside to compensate clients affected by the cancellation of the project. He was sentenced to three years in jail on January 31 and ordered to repay the money. However, prosecutors yesterday told the court that the Dubai Court of Appeals later reduced the sentence to one year and ruled that Eldin did not have to repay the money.

RN's whereabouts are unknown. Prosecutors say RN forged the signatures of a former director of the Dubai Land Department and a deputy at the department. A director with the land department's financial affairs division told prosecutors that 18 Meeras compensation cheques were found to be missing in May of last year. "When we discovered the cheques missing we found out that one of them was actually withdrawn by someone who was not on the compensation receivers' list," said the director, who was not identified.

Investigators discovered that RN withdrew the money in his name, placed it in his HSBC account, and then transferred Dh3m of the money via wire transfer to Jordan, according to court documents. It is the third case brought by the property developer against former employees who either embezzled funds or revealed sensitive information relating to the Jumeirah Gardens project. An American lawyer woking for Meeras Holdings, J C, was sentenced to three years in jail last month after being convicted of disclosing company secrets to a competitor.

The court adjourned the case to September 26. amustafa@thenational.ae